Cracking through Jen’s  crème brule
reminds her of children, small and quick,
gone in the wink of an eye when
the Spring ice failed. “Mmmmm,
delicious!” Were there three of them?
Or only one? Past time now to smile
and nod at Whosit’s recitation.
Traumas and victories.  Can he be so
heroic? Can she need to pee AGAIN?
This is not her hallway, not the center
of the home where she pauses to
listen as echoes of babies snuggling
tight, toddlers calling their shoes,
teenagers thinking no one knows
what they’re up to and the husband
bellowing. Voices here are fresh,
alive – daughter and Whosit.
“Whoops. Time to go home. Yes…
really…late for an old lady. Ha ha
ha ha no really.” 

Old homes want more care:
Wiring left well enough alone
but you can’t use that plug; 
buckets in the right places;
subfloors creaking under the years;
windows warping in a wavy world.
“I’m alright, really, I’m fine fine fine.
Good night!”


I like to keep a clean sheet
between skin and blankets,
for smooth and to rest the old
washing machine.
Blankets are heavy when wet 


Some old ladies were keening,
some cooking oatmeal, some still
snoring; but this one sat plump on
the front stoop, not feeling smoke
in the air, that whiff of plastic and
teddy bear. Houses burn in the
canyons, but man must build.
It could have stopped there.
But Jack’s warm rump needed a pat
while his snout dripped cool snot
on the concrete. “That’ll leave a
mark.” Death muffles Harold’s bellow,
“Ah labs, ya gotta love ‘em.”
Doves wake and cars hum.

Bustling Jeep with daughter
inside bounced up the drive,
woke Jack but aching hips
slowed him down so she
sauntered up with no muddy
paws planted square in her middle.
Jen likes it better that way
but the old lady’s not so sure.
And the way ahead looks rocky.

Breath catches, but Mom puts on pantyhose for her appointment
with the future.
Which, yes, did look pretty bleak.
Was that Harold again? Towards
the end everything looked pretty
bleak to him. But no. Really. Bleak
is when a 20-something female in a
navy suit calls you “Evelyn” in that
high voice acting sweet when we all
know what she’s after. “You can call
me Mrs. Murray. No thank you, I do
not want to enjoy a complementary
lunch in your lovely facility. I am needed
at home.” Jen has that look in her eye
and a quick escape is called for.
“Pretty bleak” “quick escape,”
Harold’s voice in my ears, while I wish
I could hear what Jen is saying so fast
And loud but I am

Home for a nap and a wandery
afternoon. That’s why god
invented slippers. Gardening.
Cooked dinner for Jack.
Talked on the phone.
Neighbors understand an old woman
wants to die with her memories around her.
Why can’t Jen?


Spark in the wiring probably started it,
but the smoke billowed iridescent,
with tempera paint,
talcum powder,
and just a hint of Milkbone.


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One Response to Transmogrified

  1. Ginny Richardson says:

    Your writing is becoming more and more beautiful