grasps the arms of her rollator, shuffles
from bedroom to courtyard, where
during sunny mornings she’ll sit for hours
alone. I speak with her by phone every day,
hear how the laundry lost her favorite
socks or how her bed went unmade. But today,
it’s about her cold coffee, cold eggs, and the rain
that keeps her in. Her words slur, another
mini-stroke. And she can’t sleep anymore.
In our strange COVID time, gripes are all
she has, and she harvests them like grapes
off a vine. Last February, I’d found her
unresponsive, and in the hospital, she roused
long enough to say goodbye, and then weeks
later, recovered. Now, I’m all she has—
her least favorite child, grown into someone
she must trust. The irony of it, how our circles
come around in unexpected ways, how clear
mornings turn to rain, how karma becomes
physiological, and intention is rarely enough.
“Mom,” I say, channeling her as I sit at my desk
after our conversation, “perhaps this is all
you get,” and then note that her grievances,
so difficult for me, are perhaps her greatest joys.

Robin Greene, ex-English professor and cofounder of Longleaf Press, teaches yoga and writing in Hendersonville, NC. Her most recent novel, The Shelf Life of Fire, and her nonfiction book of women’s birthing narratives, Real Birth, Women Share Their Stories, are available on Amazon.