“Easy. Easy, does it. I’ll help you button your blouse,” I say to my mother.
“I like it like this. It is hot in here.”
“Yes, it is a bit hot.” Oh, my God. You look like a wizened little boy. You’ve got no breasts at all. You once held babies close to warm full breasts. You rocked them and sang sweet lullabies. You nourished them with mother’s love and mother’s milk.
“I have such nice blouses.”
“You have good taste. You always did.” Your closets were crammed with lovely prints and sheer pastels. Now your clothes hang limp from your shoulders. If you could stand, your skirts would surely fall.
“This blouse is my favorite.”
“I like it too.” But it’s not yours. It belongs to Irene down the hall.
“I think the children are coming today. Where are my children?”
“I’m here.” You had two children. The oldest was sick and died too soon. Part of you went with her.
“They’ll want to swim. The waves are good today. I’ll watch carefully. I can still do that. Children should never swim alone.”
“Your girls were both strong swimmers.” We learned from you. Graceful strong strokes.
“Where’s the beach?”
“The beach is miles away. We’re in your room.”
“I like my apartment. See that picture? That’s me. See that man? He wanted to marry me but I said no.”
“You did marry him. That’s Daddy’s portrait.”
“Daddy? I don’t remember what Daddy looked like. Just that he was a good-looking man. And I was pretty.”
“You’re pretty still.” Yet so very frail. When the sun shines through the window, you look translucent. I can almost see your fragile heart. Perhaps a spider pirouetted through your head. She has spun a web of silver lace around your mind.
“What time is it?”
“Rest now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Don’t leave! I don’t belong here. A mother must not leave her child. Aren’t you my mother?”
“No. Sweet Mommy, you are mine.”