Message from Down Under
On Wednesday, Mother’s eyes are bright blue.
Do you still live in Nashville?
Before I can tell her
I’ve never lived in Tennessee,
her gaze shifts to the gray-streaked window
where she watches drunken scarlet leaves dip and whirl.
She confesses her late night escape
to wander rain-slicked streets
then laughs, tells me she met a friend, danced
until yellow scribbles crawled into the lightening sky.
Soiled with soup and juice,
her favorite pink gown, the one she washed
on gentle cycle in cold water and Woolite,
on her dwindling body.
As caged minutes circle hollow moans
on the East Wing hall,
she crumples the sheet beneath her chin.
Her voice crashes through sticky silence
in the overheated air:
Do you work?
What do you do?
I lean toward her ear, say I work in the arts.
She frowns, drags words
like a serrated blade:
How do you expect to pay for lodging doing that?
I recall similar words thirty years ago,
long before dementia began
to shutter her mind,
when she scolded, told me
to find a real job.
Somewhere in her darkness,
still wishes I was the daughter
she knew she would have.
Linda Wimberly is a writer, artist and musician from Marietta, GA. A former Vermont Studio Center resident in writing, her poetry has appeared in The Raw Art Review, Lunch Ticket, Stone River Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems and others and a short story appeared in Cricket. She is a self-taught abstract artist and her images have appeared in or been cover art for jelly bucket, Critical Pass Review, Inscape Magazine and others. Her image “Woman on the Move” won the 2019 Art Contest for So to Speak: feminist journal of language and art. (lindawimberly.com)