A Palimpsest


My mother, who is only a few years younger than the widow
of the former dictator, can only shuffle around the nursing home
with a nurse by her side, holding her up and helping push the walker.
Her soft bones bend her over. Her fingers can’t stop fluttering. 
Whereas the wife of the former dictator, now in her early nineties,
can still walk with a certain kind of aplomb though there are folds 
under her chin. She is fleshy all over and made up, fingers winking 
with rings, tugging at her red butterfly sleeves and tight bodice. 
Whereas my mother has never ridden a private limousine 
through the city, dispensing bundles of cash to the poor 
running alongside. The only thing they possibly have 
in common is their love for that song and its saccharine 
refrain: Because of you I want to live; because of you until 
I die. My late father would have said: Look 
what money can buy. Or cannot buy.  

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