Nina Avedon: The Caretakers


One stakes claim to my core
kneading the knots on my neck,
my spine    one sticks pins in my limbs
then covers my toes
with a shimmery blankey
I bare my bones to another’s
expert eyes —take her advice
to don an SPF’d bonnet


My stepmother beckons me
to their bedroom
It’s his birthday but no cake
has been baked    my father, now one hundred
and two, doesn’t know I am there

I feel myself blush
while she changes his diaper
cooing her way through the task
I turn away
but her talk brings me back— 
This is love she barks


Are they taking or giving?
my young patient asks
pointing to the print in the hall
I peer at Flowers of Peace,
the Picasso I forgot
was hanging on the wall
I extend an arm toward my office,
motion—take a seat
They’re sharing I offer
with a smile  —  and we’re off

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