by nathan leslie

    My mother is calcifying into a hull of herself,
    but who else sees her white hands, or her toes
    that ache from the weight of one scratchy sheet,
    or how the catheter tubes and I.V. needles
    make her seem like a starving porcupine?

    I walk outside trying not to step on a single
    insect, ant, mite, or spider. I am not a Sikh,
    but I respect the frail intricacies, the accidental
    patterns that have graced this world with geometry.
    I bow to the sidewalk and touch the concrete

    as if I were touching my toes in P.E., as if I were
    limbering before Wimbledon, and for some reason
    HORSE comes to mind. I used to let my son win.
    Now he is eighteen and blazes in fury, erupts.
    And this is my doing. I created this. I have a stake in this,

    and I can say many things without reproach, and I can say
    to him, "I am sorry," and "I didn't mean to." My mother
    will pass, as we all will. Yet I can't stop myself from
    throwing my own tantrums, telling them they have
    to do something, you must bring her out of this.

    This is exactly what she must have thought at some
    point, when I fell from the picnic table and bashed
    my face against the ground, or fell from my bike,
    and cried, and she didn't want to reach out to pick me up,
    and yet she did, and then she walked away with me.

Copyright © 2022 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.