partner, Griffin, and her mother, Edith
Wendy Patrice Williams is a member
of the Red Fox Underground, poets of the Sierra foothills. Her
poems appear in Rattlesnake Review, Poetry Depth Quarterly,
The Acorn, and elsewhere. Her short stories are published in
Shore Stories: An Anthology of the Jersey Shore and
Whatever It Takes: Women on Women’s Sport. In 2008, Friends
of Bayley House published Bayley House Bard, her chapbook
of reflections on the historic Bayley House in Pilot Hill,
California. Wendy is currently completing a memoir, The
Autobiography of a Sea Creature, and teaches at the College
of Alameda. She lives with her partner, Griffin, in Citrus
Heights, along with two sheep, three ducks and one cat. Her
mother passed away in 2007.
Wendy Patrice Williams Poems
Mother at the Manor
I loved you the moment
I saw you, my baby, my mother said
white-haired and drifting
in and out of what we call reality,
now that she's off drugs
wheeling herself from room
to room by pulling with her feet
like I did as a toddler
sitting on my behind, she once told me.
She waves to everyone—
the grumpy-faced man
I know will ignore her;
the woman powdering her nose
as she leans into her mirror.
Hello! my mother calls, then
half-waves, folding fingers
over her palm, again and again.
So much to see and do
on the dementia unit:
dogs to pet, roses
to sniff, chandeliers
to marvel at—pieces of light
and people, her roommate
about whom she talks
as if she isn't lying awake
in her bed as we stand over her.
Oh, she's back, observes my mother,
I thought she was dead.
Do Not Grow Old in America
Live for as long as you can in a small town
where neighbors check in—
cool breezes, fresh air, scent of jasmine.
Then when it's time,
wheel yourself over moss, up winding,
cone-scattered trails to a green place;
fall from the chair onto pine needles;
lie for as long as needed,
as long as it takes
to be taken back.
Don't go corporate: The Manor, Senior City,
Haven Hill, Emerald Tomorrow, Inc.:
eye-stinging germicidals, stale urine, syncopated wheezing.
Social workers brisking by, tossing
cheery hellos, like horseshoes;
nurses flinging Aricept, Risperdal, Restoril.
They'll say, We love you. You're a keeper.
They'll tell you, How cute you are.
You're a star. We love your cat.
And to family, She'll get used to it. They all do.
Do not go silently
into that bad night,
rage against how society
does not fight for you.
Stay at home; coordinate
sharing the care.
Don't go corporate.
Bottom line in America,
those who grow old
are, you can bet, bottom line.