She’s the one in the bright tunic,
pants stretched over expanding hips.
Her new digs—chain elder-care,
with its institutional tweed Berber
carpet, puke beige vinyl baseboard,
hot, dry air, snapping, fly-away hair—
and her never friends.

“I don’t want to die because
I don’t want to miss anything.”
she confides, her failing mind
never failing to amaze.

Flirts with wife-less men
who inflate chests, shift shoulders.
Piano—her soul—she plays
like she’s twenty, needs no music,
but can’t remember five seconds ago.

She clomps along in deceased husband’s
cigar-infused old leather slippers.
“I miss your father,” she groans,
photo of dead son in unused wallet.

Her walls, piano with metronome,
decorated by daughters, granddaughters—
a collage of her life—
remind her of what she has lost,
and lost again.

My mom, hair as raging red
as the day she burst forth—
accused of dyeing it at 99,
shortly before she, herself …