My mother sits next to me, her fake fur Borganzia coat buttoned up,
her black velvet cloche pulled low on her forehead.
It’s August. She’s penciled the beauty spot
onto her right cheek and wears her designer
eyeglasses with the rhinestone B
for Beatrice winking on the lower right lens.
She smells like Evening in Paris
with an underwaft of shit.
The doctor leans over his desk and asks,
“Why do you suppose your daughter brought you here?”
Mother’s face squinches up. She chews her tongue.
A cartoon lightbulb goes on inside her head.
“I’ve come to move my bowels,” she proclaims.
“When I do, I’m leaving.”
Sourness rises in my mouth.
My heart drums.
The backs of my thighs are damp in the leather seat.
I twist my pocketbook’s shoulder strap.
I’m surrounded by green-gray walls
that are closing in. The air is wet wool.
Above me, the pocked tiles
of the soundproof ceiling.
Inside me a scream.
Isn’t this what I’d hoped for?
That the doctor would see that she can’t stay
in her apartment anymore, not even with an aide.
I can’t take her to live at my house. I have two small kids.
She sets fires. Still, I tremble at the cut of the cord.
Beatrice, you shook the gilt-framed mirror in your lobby,
unable to believe you were looking at yourself—
random puffs of Helena Rubinstein face powder,
lipstick way beyond your lip line, lips
opening and closing, fishlike.
I want the doctor to tell me he has a potion
that will bring my real mother back.
I want to hear him say, “In ten days
she will bake her cinnamon coffee cake,
go to a senior dance, write
postcards to her sister.”
Adonai, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Satan,
eye of newt, bat whiskers, dragon tongue.
Mother’s brain scan—black-holed, like buckshot.
Mother, at the Home in a railed bed,
her designer glasses removed for safekeeping.
“Take me home,” she begs.