By Annelie Hyatt
In the summer of my childhood
we would circle the cul-de-sac:
endless road ahead of us, conversation
about nothing as we admired
Grandpa, my floor has been messy for days.
My bed sheet keeps slipping
so most nights I end up sleeping on the mattress protector,
and I’m so hopeless that I wash my kitchen utensils
right before eating instead of waiting for them to dry.
I wonder if you would understand what I’m saying,
stranded on your hospital bed while I try to reel you in.
I certainly can’t understand you.
Years went by.
I was old enough for tenderness
and you were just older. We ate bagels in the morning,
we played Jin, you paced around the room chanting
“I am the Champion” while I cried near the piano,
face shining and insulted.
For days, hauling myself to class, writing articles, affronted by
one thing or another, I spend quiet moments considering the fact
that the Thing has finally happened
You’re here but not here.
You smile at me and everything is worse.
Tonight, we say Mi Sheberach
and I mouth the words, not knowing what they mean.
I watch the rest of my relatives recite it perfectly.
there’s no heat in my room and I’m struggling
to find a prayer that would come easy.
All I wish is that we could stay here,