An old man, wheelchair-bound, is eating
in a back corner of the cafeteria, bits of food
strewn around him on the floor. A sturdy nurse
in a shapeless uniform thumbs his chin
with the sharp edge of a blue cloth napkin.
The man’s hands tremble, but he insists.
She does not argue, or take the silverware away,
but hovers near him as he tries to reach his mouth,
to slip in the spoon like a coin from a cautious mourner,
the mess on the floor ignored, left for an unnamed janitor
who will clean up later, without complaint, the sweep
of the steely broom a censer swinging from a chain, each stroke
a blessing for the world, the old man in his immutable chair,
the quiet nurse who wheels him away, gliding slightly
on her sensible shoes.
So poignant – a bittersweet depiction of grace, perfectly captured. Well done!
So many memories rush forth of people who lived with so much grace in their old age – my father, my husband’s father …. Thank you for this poem, Cynthia.
I was thinking, too, of people who take care of the elderly, like you 🙂