She teeters and wobbles,

The natural gyroscope of her

Footsteps on earth twisted

Into a spinal corkscrew

By poisons that slow down

Phantom convulsions

To the pace of a snail

Hit by garden bait.

She doesn't complain much,

And when I find her

Sitting out her ten-thousandth

Hour of doing nothing at all,

She is counting thanks

To her many benefactors

And weighing her blessings

On those who will survive her.

Wheeled out to restaurants

During my too-brief stay,

She eats and eats and eats

Like a lifer suddenly

Let out on parole,

Hamburger meat,

Crab sticks, calamari,

Oven-roasted goat meat,

Mouthful after mouthful,

Washed down with water

Sipped through a straw,

Her sucking reflex still

Alive after ninety years

Even as her eyes stay shut,

Too weary to take in more

Of what they feasted on

All throughout her long

Life as an artist.

©Erik Bendix

photo:  the hands of Erik Bendix's mother Jane,
who has survived Parkinson's disease for over 20 years
Erik Bendix's poetry     
Erik Bendix's biography     
Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry