Sign of Respect
Afraid she’s fallen or had a stroke
when she doesn’t answer my knock,
I have the nurse unlock her door,
ignoring with a daughter’s disdain
the clearly written post-it note –
“Do Not Disturb”
in her school-teacher hand –
stuck above the knob
And can only laugh
with surprise and a kind of
relief and delight
to see two bare bodies
half rise on the bed,
as I step in.
“Sorry! – ” I back out fast.
Who gave me the right
to breach a shut door?
What made me sure
age had smothered that flame?
I may be losing my memory, but it’s a discriminating memory.
I have things you will never know – no matter what I remember or
forget. There are places in my mind where you can never go.
* * *
© Susan McMaster, from Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me (Black Moss, 2010).
* * *
Susan McMaster, VP of the League and 25-year member, is the author of 12 poetry collections. She divides her time between Minasville, Nova Scotia, and Ottawa, Ontario. This poem from Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me (Black Moss) is followed by a comment from her mother Betty.