Imagine a partially deaf
93 year old
Who watches CNN

Imagine her first language
Was not a language at all
But a mix of dialects
Her mother’s
Cajun French
And her father’s
New Orleans French

Imagine she often
Gives Mrs. Malaprop
A run for her money
Or her Monet, perhaps
Or her honey
Depending on the background noise

(When she drove, she sped up by pressing
On the exhilarator
When she does dishes, she washes them
In the zinc
When she writes an email she uses
Google air mail)

Imagine, in short, my mother

See her charge
(As much as a slow, bent old woman can charge
And that, it turns out, is quite a lot)
Into the kitchen as I wash dishes
(At the zinc, of course)
Charge up behind me and demand
“What is an oliguard?”

Hear me, retired professor,
Too much in love with knowledge
Talking at her about oligarchy
About oligarchs and fashionable words
About formal and common usage

Imagine her interrupting (finally)

Imagine her
Old and bemused, sometimes confused
But still able
In her way to crack
That whip smart

Imagine her saying
“So an oliguard is a very wealthy person
Who uses his wealth to guard
Politicians who guard his money.”

Imagine now


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