Jun 26, 2005

Kate McPeak

Kate on Lilac Circle Posted by Hello

I heard this poem on The Writer's Almanac® on Monday, June 20, 2005 and it reminded me of Grandma's last year in the nursing home. She would have been 94 today. The picture is one taken of her in her own back yard on Lilac Circle in Little Rock, Arkansas in August 1961.

Poems: "Chocolate" by Sandra M. Gilbert from Belongings. © W.W. Norton & Co.


In the end, in the long-term
wing of the assisted living home,
in the small white chamber

looking out on the patio's locked-in
blooms or in the big plain"day room"
with its blaring

TV and hopeful posters,
they fed my mother
ground-up piles of pallid

stuff in bowls clamped onto
a plastic tray and at first
she smiled,
delicious, delicious,

as she sucked the oozing
juices, the last pap,
smiling surrounded by fellow

diners drooping and mumbling
in their places until
after a while she tightened

her lips against the food and
instead began unknotting,
unknotting the flowered

gown, unclothing her wasting
nakedness still white and smooth
and then at the very end,

when dreamy and slim
as a teen she welcomed
old friends and relatives who flickered

on the walls, the curtains
of the tiny room, nodding,
hello, sit down, to the shiny

nothing, she'd eat nothing
but chocolate, only chocolate,
so every day I brought an oblong

Lindt or Hershey
and square by square
she took in mouthfuls,

smiling and nodding, square
by square,
delicious, dear,
until she finally

swallowed the whole dense bar.

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