The Caregivers

                         ...We are learning
how to care for the dead, each
in our own way.
                                     ~ Brian Turner

They are so young, so patient:
the three who give eight 
hours of each day to caring for 
our mother, our grandmother, 
because we can't be there 
ourselves. They take turns
dampening her skin, changing 
her diapers, urging sips of water
and blended Cerelac and banana;
laying a cool cloth on her forehead
in answer to the sometimes fevers.
This is the stage called the end
of life: we read that the body
starts to need less and less 
of what it relied on for decades,
flesh trimming away excess
until we can almost discern 
the keel on which the hull 
was laid, the delicate bones
of the wrist laddering up 
to the fingers. In phone videos,
she shakes her head or calls
the names of her ghosts;
sometimes she has no clue.
We say no more to the constant
drawing of blood, to the checking
of sugars. The body is folding into
itself like its own prayer, heedless
of time however long the transit.

One Reply to “The Caregivers”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.