Mother, may I was a childhood game involving
a few steps forward, if caught, back to the beginning.
We played for hours, alternating with freeze tag,
polite, simple games on a grassy front yard.
The last few years, months, weeks, days
have been no game as I mentally trace a map
along her arm, bruised and thin, freckled
in a hospital gown.
The problem is her heart again and again,
one doctor saying recently, you've got a nice murmur.
My mother, at ninety, blushing, flirts back
saying she had a boyfriend once with eyes like his.
He compliments her nail polished fingers
holding both of her hands in his, and she gives
me the credit for the bronze glitter
then he escapes her magic and becomes
all business and medical details.
She charms everyone, even with her unwashed
white head of hair, wearing nothing but
an ugly pale green hospital gown.
This woman who lost so much in life continues
to be positive about everything.
From the colors of the ER curtains to
every nurse or orderly, she so frail, is
a beholder of hope and kindness to all.
Before I leave, I trace the wrinkles of
her lovely face, a beautiful aged map.