Forced Watch

Mom’s fingers have forgotten the piano keys; her feet no longer love a polka beat. She writes invisible lists with a fork and eats string beans with her hands. When she sniffles I hand over a tissue, which she folds into quarters and tucks under a sleeve while her nose drips unchecked. Mom seldom complains, but neither does she sing. Her pale blue eyes, faded from the deep, piercing, chocolate brown of young motherhood, seem free of worry, but they are likewise devoid of joy.

I’m helpless while a sculptor I cannot see or dissuade chisels away the sharp corners and tender bulges that made my mother unique. Her features and personality, even her voice, tend toward the smooth sameness of her nursing-home peers-just one egg among a crateful. Yet, whoever remains when the sculpting is done, I must find a way to single her out and to love her more than ever.

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