Zero-sum waiting game


 
They say a watched pot never boils. And pasta doesn’t cook in the 8 minutes they say it does on the box. Forget about my oven. Add a half hour or more to every cooking time mentioned in a recipe, any recipe.
 
My oven is old as is the rest of my house and the inhabitants in it. My children are now 21 and 18 (in a matter of days)–older children, not grade schoolers any more. And their parents’ late fifties make them older parents. And my parents, who had me when they were in their early twenties, are old. My father will turn 83 in a month, and my mother won’t live out the month. Though younger than my father by four years, she’s older than us all. Her demented body attacked her and made her old.
 
I’m awaiting her death. She breathes laboriously, with her whole body. Her lungs can’t do it alone any more. She needs to breathe with her belly, once ballooned with sweets now shrunken down into her spine. The hospice nurse says this belly barely breathing is yet another sign of her “transitioning.” I tell the caretaker to give her morphine. She doesn’t look like she suffers but just in case. She’s tired of living.
 
I wait. I watch her chest rise and fall. She doesn’t open her eyes any more. Her hands have begun to swell, turning her fingertips purple. Weak kidney function. Soon, maybe tomorrow, she’ll forego all food and water, her body turning on itself for a little peace, just a last bit of peace, for fuck’s sake, mercy, mercy, please peace. She’s waiting–and we too wait, watching her wait.

 

image source/pixabay

Waiting

Waiting (2)

 

Waiting again…

for an unconfirmed

chance meeting

held in suspense

undecided date set

to a generalized affair

of you know where I am

and if you need me…

But seeking, anticipating

lurking in the corners,

that hint of arriving–something,

in jittery undertones under-girding

a calm overlay, THE commonality.

To observe the boulevard,

its passing cars unceasing,

flowing like cyclic

bleeding, you count on it,

sense its certain appearance

but never quite prepared,

somewhat surprised, even;

a small part of you disbelieves,

astonished and affronted with stark

reality inscribed in the expected–

just as traffic normatizes forced

obedience, swallowed tolerance and

immunity to poisonous decay,

and comforts the daily usual.

So, what itches beneath the skin?

What stutters contentment?

A species more conditioned to

seek, prize and await the

extraordinary, less populated

than the quotidian dose of

hundred fold–or more–

increments amassed regularly.

So I wait for no one, nowhere,

midst the humming coffee house

quiet nothingness, gaze-glowering

at passersby, plimsole-pedal drones,

all the while sniffing unseen seams,

loosely sewn quilted square panels

that curtain the wizard’s productions–

plotting potential improbability.