[If Christmas does not happen in this house this year, I shall blame it on the delicious prompts from Two Sylvias Press.]
The slight curve of the street makes it hard to park the car
just right, close but not too close, to the curb
so mom can step into the street.
With effort she pushes the car door open
so she can hold the open door for support
as she waits, more or less patiently,
for me to get her walker from the back seat
unfold it and place it just so
on the sidewalk
so she can maneuver that intimidating
step up from curb to wide walkway.
But first I grab the handful of mail
from our dented black mailbox
sitting slightly askew on its single leg
dented and askew because mom
a few years ago when she still drove
backed her car into it
when she still drove.
We make our so slow way
up the short straight concrete path
recently widened by my husband
to the three broad steps of the small porch.
Mostly mom is a treat to watch
as she has figured out how to safely
climb the three railed stairs
with the walker.
Mostly, usually, but not always
so I stand behind
ready to right any wrong.
Then the difficulty of maneuvering
on the small porch
around mom’s not insubstantial self
standing stolidly unaware.
My hands full
because I collected the mail
even though I already have a grocery bag
and my purse
and mom’s sweater
why do I never remember
the small porch challenge
of walker and woman
storm door opening out
wooden door opening in
at least I left it unlocked.
Forever and a day or longer
to cross the threshold
walk the short hall
turn into her bedroom
settle her in her recliner
park the walker
find the remote
and the phone
answer her urgent insistence
to see right now
if any mail is for her.
I stand at my kitchen counter
to sort mail
knowing most will go
to the recycle bin under the sink
bills, ads, pleas for money
sometimes with a calendar or address labels
cheap socks or cheaper gloves
I like the occasional one with a reusable bag
but even then I never give in response.
Today includes the small state supplement check
the one I always forget about
though it comes faithfully every month
and is part of my budget plan
but still feels like a bonus, a gift, a treat
I set aside the utility bill,
put the check in my purse,
throw everything else in the recycle bin.
almost everything else
I hold one small white envelope with two hands
turn it over and over
as if revolutions will yield revelations.
It looks like it should hold a card
but it is too yielding for a card
it feels like it holds nothing.
No return address
to me, only me.
The handwriting reminds me of my late husband
15 years dead
old-fashioned, mixing cursive and print
the 4 scribed like a typed 4, with enclosed top
written with a black marker pen
Just like he used to do.
Just like him.
The name on the envelope
on all my mail
half mine, half his
first half mine alone
second half the one I took
when I married him
the one I kept
when I married again
Though I open the envelope carefully
the dusty sparkles surge out
float slowly to the floor
enliven the air around me
a few even come to rest on my hands.
That’s all, nothing else
for the rest of the day
sparkling dust clings to my hands
sparkling dust resists being swept from the floor
sparkling dust rises, occasionally, into the air around me
as I tend to mom’s long slow needs.