Apartment 3201

Her doorstop hangs from one bolt,

no longer two,

attached through an ever expanding hole,

still not ready to let go.

Four mismatched chairs of varying height

circle her seventy-five-year-old dining table,

a wedding present,

still offering a venue for meals.

Her junk mail pushed aside

making room for two vinyl placemats

frayed at the edges,

still protecting the thinning finish below.

The worn seam on her sofa

sags where well-wishers

have relieved their weight.

Still, more are welcome,

coming with flowers and gifts.

A darkened track on her carpet

leads to her bedroom

where she lies eighteen hours a day

in a rented metal bed

with adjustable height and tilt

its removable sides offering needless safety

as she occupies only space in the middle.

Her aging back is flat down

just where a caregiver put her,

never moving,

eyes closed,

mouth open,

as the cobwebs of sleep embrace her.

Later she wakens,

less left of her than yesterday.

No words fill her mouth,

only breathing.

The routine unfolds.

Wash her.

Dress her.

Comb her hair.

Take her vitals.

Feed her.

Repeat tomorrow.

Pattern is paramount

though I weep for its ways.

First published in Avatar Review August 2019