Mondays at Mary-Haven Nursing Home, Snohomish

Mondays at Mary-Haven Nursing Home, Snohomish
   by Dan Behrens
   
Applesauce is all she really eats,
Ellis all she really smiles at.
   
A slow slipping away into something
More redemptive and young
   
Gram will never again feel,
Let alone hold in her atrophied arms.
   
Fewer words each time I visit.
More staring. More sleep.
   
Different pair of caregivers today,
Busying themselves with pudding or plasticware,
   
The tv volume, ice. I turn the blinds
Enough for her to look out toward
   
Machias of the late 30’s
And the stationhouse there
   
She’s long since left. Tears.
Our times together grow shorter. Her recall
   
Of names now near nothing. Whether ever married.
Where she is. My face. I squeeze her hand
   
And read of the still, quiet waters in the Psalms
Till Ephrod—the afternoon nurse—stops in.
   
Here we go Bobby, he says. Lift for me...
Come on now. Role. Sponge. Towel. Cream.
   
All for a fresh diaper.
Whatever pain there is is distant,
   
Ephrod says. But what does he know
Of the slowly slipping away,
   
The long drive home,
The mirage of memories
   
Beyond the Bellevue high-rise,
Back down the Renton Valley?