Sinai Grace Hospital, June 2014
Trained hands remove the fabric scrim
slowly, by turns, by shifts, reveal
valley of hip, sloped crag of empty
womb, uncover flesh
the color of desert sand,
landscape eroded to rift and waver,
stark, creased, rippling
where muscle once shaped the dunes.
Help me turn her, the aide requests.
We roll forward pelvic cradle, rib,
outcrop of shoulder, blade, every ridge
a bone peeking through skin, a history
written in this shell once woman.
Ida holds her stroked right arm aloft
as we prop her weight
to let the bedsore breathe.
Morning nurse, blood pressure band,
reaches for the right.
Ida gargles words
behind her stroke-stolen tongue,
over and over, flailing.
Nurse croons an it’s alright song
at strange Ida noise,
pumps the cuff, assumes dementia.
She said use the left, we tell the nurse.
Surprise. Held breath. Apology.
Rose M. Smith‘s work has appeared in The Examined Life Journal, Mom Egg Review, pluck! Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, Naugatuck River Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Main Street Rag, The Pedestal Magazine, A Narrow Fellow and other journals and anthologies. She is a Senior Editor with Pudding Magazine, is a Cave Canem fellow, and serves as a contest judge and coach with Ohio Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud program.