This is where I went after seeing her,
this is where I stood in line for my food.
After pretending to hold
a conversation for an hour, the same thing
over and over, and her begging
to go back home, at lunchtime I left,
drove across town to eat something easy —
choosing and paying, going to the table
in the corner, chewing hard,
washing it down with my drink. I slid
my trash and half my food into the bin,
washed my hands in the fluorescent restroom,
looking hard at myself in the mirror: the daughter
of the woman with Alzheimer’s.
One time I watched a man
park his semi outside.
He climbed out of his truck
and came in, stood in line like the rest of us,
sat down kitty-corner from me.
Poring over a road map, he looked up,
ignoring the men nearby who looked
like him, caught my eye to ask
could I direct him to 53rd Street. Well, sure,
I said, like I did that all the time, and I did,
and he said, They never give you directions, it’s hard
to maneuver these things around. Shoot,
I could of just stayed on the interstate, couldn’t I,
I’d of been there by now. He finished before I did,
two Big Macs and an extra large Coke,
thanked me again on his way out the door.
I could not help my mother,
but I could help him. I leaned back then,
watching till his truck eased into
the traffic, savoring for a moment
that different kind of sustenance.
Published in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing