the other signs of aging
while she and i watched grandma
in the bathtub we waited for the pruning:
she waited for the sagging
i for the other signs of aging.
and those were our jobs.
we limned and we limbed.
growing pains for overstretched ligaments and unstretched fibers.
there are handprints on the
steam of the mirror because one day we didn’t have a chance to
watch grandma slip
and we’ve lived in different worlds and swum in parallel pools of
pruning molding skin.
do you think they watch us?
(––hands do not cease but concerned lips pursed)
she asked me while we were sudsing her white scalp
kneading it like dough
(––eyes nearly cast down––)
sweating her like farm fresh eggs
(less than smooth today––)
i looked down and beyond the crust under my fingernails
I found what grandma had called a wrinkle.
When you were once sick in bed,
I nursed you. Hot broth colder towels
You told me about a dream you had that
Chased you. Of something you were unable to outrun, to outsmart.
When I crack eggs I can never break the shell in an even line.
Even tempo even tempered
Even you, passing through the kitchen to stand in front of the fridge for an hour
You mentioned casually one day,
barely recovered, you had a
vocation. Your calling was a mission in
Uganda and you heard it screaming.
Your mom told me one time after Monday dinner between dessert and baby pictures
That when you were a child you ran around the house naked.
Over breakfast I asked you if you knew what erosion was. Disintegration. dissociation.
You were quiet, but when we were brushing our teeth you broke the silence foamy-mouthed to tell me you think you knew what I meant.
Age 17, Grade 11
Saint Ann’s School