by Mary Redman
Her eyes, a windless pond,
look but do not see as I move to her table
in the dining room. Slowly, the focus
changes—and she knows it’s me
but can no longer say my name.
I take her out, slow-footed,
for our walk along a certain route,
the road encircling her sheltered home.
She tries to set a faster pace
as if she needs to prove something.
No need to hurry, I say.
Tongue-tied, she tries to speak,
as if she must—to keep me coming back.
She may be right. I do not know
how to do this sort of small talk. I speak.
She nods, pretends to catch my point.
Looking at her soft-skinned face,
draped jowls, crosshatched lines marking
years, I wonder when she changed
so. Soon it’s time to leave—
We hug as if one of us might break,
and I smell soap and Charlie, faded
after hours of wearing. I tell her
I’ll phone tomorrow. She blinks.
I wonder what she thinks as I turn
to leave. She watches ‘til I’m out of sight—
I see her in the rearview mirror.
Down the road a few blocks more,
I breathe a sigh of relief, regret, and guilt—
as sticky as a July day after rain.
Mary Redman is a retired high school English teacher who currently works part time supervising student teachers for University of Indianapolis. She enjoys having time to volunteer and to take classes at the Indiana Writers Center. She has had poems published in Flying Island, Three Line Poetry, Red River Review, Northwest Indiana Literary Journal, Tipton Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.