After my dad died and my mom’s worsening dementia forced her into a care facility, it fell to my sister and me to clean out their house. When we walked inside, it was like uncovering an intact archaeological site. My dad’s closet was still filled with his fleece jackets and golf shirts. Inside the pantry, opened bags of potato chips and crackers were sealed with clips. I expected my mom to walk into the kitchen, grab the half-used bottle of Windex from the shelf and clean the table.
“Birthday,” by Nancy Reisman, appears in the Winter 2019 Issue of MQR. For a year after her room emptied and I left town, I was still, nonetheless, there with her. For a year it was night and she was afraid and we lay on the bed
After my mother died, I looked at a photo where she had moved into assisted living from the ER. Her oxygen tube in her nose, two small children standing on each side. Her hands around their hands pulled tightly to her chest, the chorus of knuckles still housed, white like stones, soon to be freed, soon to be splashing like horses.
You trash your room. You twist the arms of your roommate’s glasses and shred her grandchildren’s drawings. You refuse to be medicated, screaming that you are being poisoned. Security is called, and you are restrained in a special chair next to the nurses’ station like a naughty student who must sit next to the teacher.
Among the writers we’ve assembled here you’ll find redemptive rhetorics of weather, decipherable stars, children who don’t speak for years, parents who can speak no longer, people calling people animals, signs of disappearance, a word that’s given, then is folded like a map to secret places, some “small speakings,” and several foreign languages.