Dinner Time in the Alzheimer’s Wing – Sherri Wright

Two aides strap my mother into a giant sling
crank her high and release her   slowly   into the wheel chair
my mother thanks the woman in orange print hijab
whose henna dyed hands she depends upon
for every change of scenery from her life in one room

As I wheel my mother to the dining room a tall woman
clutching a baggy vinyl purse asks me for a ride to Macys
Eleanor’s hair is curled her jacket stylish but her beads
are the kind they toss on New Year’s Eve or in
a Mardi Gras parade   she paces  her eyes plead
she needs to meet her son at Macy’s
where he is waiting to take her home

I roll my mother to a table  lock her wheels
and tuck a napkin into her dress  her tablemates talk
to no-one in particular    a woman  clangs
her glass with her knife  a man crashes
his bowl on the floor when an aide spoons
soup into his mouth
others sit silent chins on chests  waiting
for three or four aides to serve thirty
immobile diners pale yellow soup
that smells like the food court
in a run down strip mall

Other than Eleanor no one looks neat
stringy hair   rheumy eyes  paper skin mottled
with bruises of age    dresses and shirts
spotted with breakfast and lunch
the entre is the same sallow shade as the soup

Tonight my mother says the pasta
looks like worms the chicken has no taste
she eats a few bites and asks me
to take her  home  to the house
where she raised eight children
lived for almost fifty years
and will never see again

How do I say I can’t
How do I explain why
this good woman who for so many years served
others   this woman who believed
in God    my mother
whose legs won’t walk
another step whose mind has moved on
to another world    must hover
in this holding pattern
when she longs to go home
and why Eleanor’s ride
never comes

Sherri WrightSherri Wright lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware after a career in education at universities and the Federal government. Running, yoga, and volunteering at a center for homeless all figure into her writing. Her work has been published in a variety of on line and print journals and recently in three books: Our Last Walk, What I Didn’t Know, and District Lines Volume IV.