Nyctinasty*

My mother is singing in a wheelchair
        in the garden of a nursing home.
                 In the phone videos, 

she's slouched over but you can tell— 
         if she could stand  and stretch, her full 
                 height now would be no taller than her 

youngest grandchild's. The women and men there 
        wear diapers, which often cause rashes. To grow 
                 old like this is to enter a country of humid 

interiors, a country where your own voice 
         gets returned as an echo from the hills. 
                 Today the mail brought me coupons 

from a Chinese restaurant, a roof repair company, 
         and a local crematory. The word comes from
                   the Latin cremare which means to burn, 

consume by fire, incinerate a dead 
          body until all that's let of it is ashes. It's
                    what I imagine we will do for my mother

when she dies, though I know l'll probably not
           be there when it happens. There are some
                     types of flowers that close their petals

during the day ahead of rain. It's what I'd also
           want for myself when it's my turn— when I
                      can no longer sing, or say, or sign.
 



~ * The opening and closing of some flowers, associated with 
diurnal changes of temperature or light intensity 
(Merriam-Webster)
                  

 

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