What Does She See?
When we enter, Oma’s gazing at the wall.
She does not smile. Her eyes are red hollows.
Opa announces that I crossed Germany to see her.
I say a few things she doesn’t register.
She asks for a tissue but can’t bring it to her face.
Holding up the spread square of tissue, frozen.
Opa wipes her raw nose, pulls her straight.
Her body always caves around that missing hip.
He asks, “Remember the last time you saw Stefan?”
She stalls—then names an event ten years past.
He starts to correct her…
But just tips the sippycup of coffee to her trembling lips.
And laughing rolls her fingers, one by one, between his own.
I suck on sweets and look out at the parking lot.
He deposits in her limp palm a rubber spikeball.
I can’t, Oma whimpers. I can’t I can’t there’s no use.
And the sunlight comes in like a memory; we sweat.
One drives till the vehicle breaks down.
Till the windows go blind.
Into the cold that neither begins nor ends.
Following his lead, she lifts one hand over her head.
Then slowly, painfully, the other hand.
And her eyes say:
rat death shit fire filth maggot mold ash.
We leave her lopsided in her wheelchair.
Once more staring at the wall.