ronald baatz | outside forever

16 08 2011

POETRYDISPATCH No. 349 | August 16, 2011



I visit my mother at the nursing home.
She tells me her mother and her sisters
had visited earlier in the day.

She tells me this after I take her outside
in her wheel chair, while we are sitting
by a garden of many yellow flowers.

I have never noticed this before, that
all the flowers are yellow, and when I
mention this to my mother she says

that of course she knows this. Even
though blind and struggling with the
loss of memory, she casually says this.

Her struggle is unrelenting, and for brief
periods of time she is aware that her brain
is not functioning as it should be. She

questions me. She wants to know what
is happening to her. I do not have it
in me to tell her that when a person is

nearing death, often that person will sense
the closeness of those loved ones who
are already numbered among the dead.

Is there anyone who thinks I should tell her?
Should I tell her she is dying? She does not
speak of dying. She speaks of living.

She asks how her cat Mooche is doing,
if the tomato plants have been watered,
if I have fallen and hurt myself recently,

if I have been sleeping well, if I have had
another dream of my father, if in my dream
he was in his garden weeding without

a hat on to protect himself from the sun.
She asks if I am being faithful to my wife.
I say nothing about death. I ask her about

her mother and her sisters. I give her
a chocolate kiss which she rolls around
in her mouth and sucks on and chews with

no teeth. She holds my hand and presses it
close to her face. She tells me she would
like to sleep outside, that when I leave

it would be okay if I left her where she is.
She wants to sleep with a breeze on her. She
wants to hear the cicadas and the trains at night.

She tells me that she could stay outside forever.