Graeae

Every so often she’s roused by a call
from the other side of the world—

her possibly senile, possibly-afflicted-
with-mild-dementia mother has reduced

her half-sister to tears yet again.
She’s flown into another of her rages:

screaming in the driveway like a disheveled
idol from antiquity, house keys a-dangle

and lashed together by a rope of shoelaces
around her waist. She shakes her fists

at invisible enemies she claims have stolen
her money and clothes; the new cell phone

which she may have forgotten she gave
last week to the ne’er-do-well nephew

because he came with threats and she
had no more cash to give. Once

she may have counted herself among
the town’s great ladies— presiding

at meetings and tea, going to movie
premieres on the arm of her late

husband. The woman she was
in that past is as alien to the one

who used to go to daily mass and the one
she is now: crone shuffling in and out

of drafty rooms, banging doors at midnight,
cursing at those she lives with—

They tiptoe around, trying to do her bidding;
failing, always failing. When company calls

she’s demure and long-suffering. What
she says, what she thinks, what she wants:

three separate destinies housed in the same
body, furious at the same callous life—

passing the same eye and tooth
from one gnarled hand to the other.

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