Last night I spread mouthwash over my face
instead of toner.
Last week I tried to open the car
with my cell phone.
I lost the word washcloth for a whole day
but could name my cousin’s dog
of 60 years ago.
Standing before the kitchen cabinet
I am sure there is something inside
that I needed only seconds before.
No longer wanting the tchotchkes
carefully collected for decades
I am dismayed to find
no one else wants them either.
I choose the grandchildren over travel.
They are a marvel, a miracle
Being helpless to protect them from pain
makes me weep.
I now know how my mother felt
waiting in the vestibule of her little house
for us to arrive
her strength in not begging us to stay
to leave her with empty arms
and missing nouns.
The past surfaces in fleeting fragments –
the first summer plunge in the icy river
the softness of the women
in flowery dresses serving tea
the shade of the cemetery for those who came first
whose lives I cannot imagine
as my great grandchildren will not be able
to conjure mine.
I contemplate a last move
hoping I can make new mental maps
and conquer the confusion
to find my way home.
Liz Kelner Pozen is a painter and poet who lives in Boston. She is also a retired psychotherapist. Liz’s interest in how people experience life and the dynamics among people is reflected in all her work.