Once

Once

you put on a jacket when it was cold

you took a shower before you got dressed

you made your own breakfast

you knew which shoes to wear.

Once

you built shelves

you repaired the washing machine

and the lawn mower

you fixed the muffler on my car

with a soup can.

Once

you commuted to your office

to help people

you had things to do.

Once

you were someone

I didn’t have to remember.

Endoscopy

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Tonight I am exhausted from remembering. 

From being the memory.

It started at 5:00 yesterday evening. 

I made us dinner.

He was not to supposed to eat after 6:00 pm,

preparing for today’s endoscopy.

No food after 6,

no liquids after midnight.

I put tape across the refrigerator door.

I wrote NO FOOD on the tape.

I brought him into my sacred space

so I could make sure he didn’t eat.

He sat on the day bed and did crossword puzzles.

I painted with watercolors.

After a while, he got up.

Where are you going? I asked.

Twice.

“To get a snack.”

Again

I explained that food was forbidden.

He was NOT happy.

I wasn’t about to stay awake all night

to keep him from drinking water.

I just hoped it wouldn’t matter.

No breakfast made him grumpy.

More explanations about the endoscopy.

He sat in my workroom

while I wrote a blog post and sewed.

The morning dragged.

Finally we drove to Kingston.

We were early.

They were 45 minutes late.

“We have a line of colonoscopies,” she explained.

I laughed at the image.

He wanted me to come with him—

the man who insists he’s not anxious.

They said no.

Not enough space to maintain social distancing.

I sat in the car.

Waiting.

Listening to an audiobook

because I forgot my handwork and my iPad.

Someone came out to get me.

“He’s sitting up in the chair,” she said.

He was woozy.

“What did they do?”

I explained again.

“What’s this?”

He showed me the green tape on his arm.

This man who is so big in my sight

because he takes up so much

of my thoughts and care and energy—

this man suddenly looked small

and muddled,

dwarfed

by the oversized recliner chair.

    

What Were You Thinking?

“What were you thinking?” he said.

And I sprang a memory leak.

All those times he accused me in public.

“Why are you wearing that?”

“That’s not how to paint a wall.”

“What were you thinking?” he said.

And I told him.

A bench there.

A shoe shelf.

A place for coats.

“What were you thinking?” he said.

Again.

In front of the others.

Three times is not a question.

“What were you thinking?”

Unlocked the door between us

that has kept the peace

all these years since.

An open door for memories

to rush in.

That old familiar cringe.

“What were you thinking?”

woke me angry at 2:36 a.m.

But I am not in then,

I am in now.

And in this now,

I speak up loud today.

I say I won’t.

I say you can’t.

I say no.

No.