A click and the door locks.
I’ll take these,
I handed the nurse a bunch of flowers.
She was sitting by the window,
an old lady dribbling onto her chin,
hair cropped for convenience,
flesh barely covering her bones,
wearing someone else’s clothes.

I walked towards her, passing others,
pretending not to look.
Lovely day, someone said.
Yes, lovely day.
She smiled, it wasn’t her face.
The voice was hers,
Mary Catherine.

I sat, held her hand,
saw the person I once knew,
fluttering somewhere in her eyes.
A butterfly behind frosted glass.
Eyes so open,
I saw reflections of her world.

She gripped my hand,
raised it to her cheek.
Another visitor looked on,
Bless her, she’s special.
I nodded my head, smiled,
wanting to say,
She’s not really like this.

We looked out onto the gardens,
she pointed to a man,
Look, it’s Hughie.
They were a devoted couple.
I felt sad I’d missed his funeral.
Her eyes half closed,
her world faded from the light,
tucked safely inside her head.

The nurse tapped my shoulder.
She’s tired.
Yes, she’s tired.
Through the wired glass in the door,
I looked back into the room,
saw an old lady, fast asleep,
wearing someone else’s clothes.


Mary Catherine, My Grandmother

Rowland Hughes ©