Stroke

Tell me I’m lucid, says Josephine on the phone. Tell me my mind hasn’t gone. Tell me my speech is clear and that I make sense to you. I picture her on her hospital bed, trying to squeeze a rubber ball with her limp left hand. In sixth grade, during lunch or recess, we used to sit, books in hand, on a grassy knoll at the edge of the school grounds— away from the surveillance of nuns. To our left, a two-storey house with peeling paint, where music and art were taught— And in one room there, a gas oven and large work table where a sister worked with one helper to bake the Sacramental bread, the altar bread, the body of Christ, the host. Sometimes, when they felt generous, they gave us the lattices left behind after they punched circles smaller than cookies on thin sheets of dough; we ate them— unblessed— with our Coke. Just beyond, a row of latrines by the barbed wire fence. We held our breath coming over the path, past the overgrowth twined with morning-glories. There are shooting pains in my fingers, she says; and pins and needles down my side, all along my left foot. I tell her this should be a good sign: There is feeling left; and, Do you remember how we said we wanted to go to Bath? Think of how jolly that will be. Outside, the rain that has fallen all night now glistens on the grass.

 

In response to Morning Porch and small stone (126).

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