Picture of the Day
yesterday | today tomorrow

March 31, 1999

the grey light is not enough to hurt our eyes a change in plans.

fluid build-up in abdominal cavity
Mom's belly is so swollen
she's afraid to travel
the change in pressure
could cause a rupture.
she shows me her upper arm--
"i'm so skinny, all i have
is a big belly. it's like a drum."
she tells me to touch it,
taut as a water balloon,
an ominous fragility.
my sister is 7 months pregnant--
maybe Mom's is a hysterical pregnancy,
psychosomatic result
of mother-daughter sympathy.

she's losing weight, the cheap
bathroom scale weighs heavy,
adds an optimisitc twenty.
she's down to about 170,
60 lbs. off her high of 230.
cancer, at least, cures obesity.
she takes a pill that will make her pee
in hopes of draining the cavity,
but inconsolable over missing seattle
she starts to weep. "ne brec, ne brec,"
her helper Eva says in Czech,
"you won't have anything left to pee."
babi if only it were that easy.
a good cry is a relief but
won't cure the ills of the body.

Mom reads the new visitor
policy a month after an elderly
volunteer door monitor let in a thief:
sign a book, wear a tag, the new
protocol doesn't apply to me
because i always enter with a key.
"The purpose of these rules is not
to inconvenience but to ensure the safety
of  Teachers Residence residents."

Mom tears envelopes open w/ her fingers,
her mother watches her sourly--
Babi always uses a knife,
letter opener, or the broken half
of a pair of scissors, precisely folding
crisp letters even as her mind
is shredded by Alzheimer's.
Zestril, BuSpar, Lorazepam--
the brown bottles are kept out
of her wheelchair-bound reach.
her 2nd childhood, these are the cookies.
the long hall to nowhere yesterday, high winds grounded
150 flights in & out of the Twin Cities.
she wants me to call right now to cancel
but i say it's too early.
the body changes like the weather.
"maybe later you'll feel better."
the diuretic might drain the cavity,
then there is the old standby tea.

later, later we'll call the airline
to confirm the flight. maybe by then
the weather will oblige & maybe by then
the swelling will subside. until then,
talk, drink tea, abide.