Things Like This Would Never Happen in the Orient

She sat on the plastic seat as if it were a comfortable
winged back chair.
Her brown Selby No-heels barely touched the floor
and she methodically tapped her toes together.
The skin of her calf hung from ankle to instep;
those legs walked thousands of miles,
stood for one third of her life in supermarket lines,
banking lines, wake viewing lines,
the legs that sashayed to the table each night
as she served her family dinner.

In the Orient, the old have been accorded respect
from wisdom passed down from the centuries.
And what is wisdom?
but the desire to live slowly like the Bonsai
among one’s own kind.
But here, the love that an old woman offers
just isn’t enough.

The doctors and nurses plotted about what to do.
A county hospital or maybe a “Nursing Facility”
or maybe, since she was babbling to herself,
a mental institution.

Christ, could she have ever believed
that something like this would happen to her–
left dumped in an emergency room
with nothing but the searing pitch
of a distant flat-liner on a heart monitor;
that final unheard song,
that blinding dullness that courses without warning
while holding the hand of a stranger
who can’t possibly help you.

Wynne Guglielmo

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