“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.
In this obituary your wife, now widow,
posts, I find a photo of you running a hand
along Gokstadt’s blackened bow,
mizzen snapped, the nail bolts sanded
down by time.