Lips cracked, dry, sometimes bleeding
Her eyes a scornful accusation
Her once robust self an emaciated shadow of its former character
She shuns the water
She will take no food
And she will relentlessly assign blame to her offspring
For her own willful failure to thrive

Her days now full, lying in bed
Demanding the pill on the appointed hour
For the pain that she cannot quite describe
That exists only in her imagination
Eighty years of illusory slights and disappointments
she composes as a litany
The last fifty are mine alone

The High Priest of her new religion
Resplendent in his white coat
His stethoscope draped round his neck
Dangling like a scapula across his hear
To him she lies, all is fine
It is the only respite
To her otherwise impenetrable bitterness

Her cruel mouth has scarred my sister
She shoulders the blame for sins she did not commit
She permits my mother the fiction
That she was doting, caring, nurturing and kind
I can do no such thing
I labor still under the yoke of abuse
That she committed or enabled, alternately without end

Her conclusion is near she proudly announces
But not near enough for me
My empathy has beaten her to the grave
It is as dead as my mother surely soon will be
The only advantage is gained by my children
After enduring this culmination of hypochondria, I vow
I will be dead before they even knew I was sick