“Sick Husband,” oil on canvas, by Vassily Maximov, 1881.

by Claire Scott

Suspended between lover and caregiver and not doing either
especially well. I prefer neat piles, no quarters in the heap

of nickels, no spoons in the section for forks, no screws
in the mason jar of nails or thumbtacks in the box of pushpins.

But some things don’t sort simply. You ten years older, your body
bent, shuffling like a polar penguin, misremembering
names and passwords, taking eight prescriptions a day.

Angry I have to change light bulbs, fill birdfeeders, fertilize
tomatoes. Angry you forget your hearing aids, your heart beats
too fast and doctors appointments fill our days.

But I see the gladdest smile when I come home, like summer heat
shimmering off asphalt. We watch Before Sunrise, my head on your shoulder,
falling asleep on the ancient sofa where we made love many times ago.

The cold coin of December waits, knowing its turn will come. We read
Mary Oliver, listening for the phone’s chime, signaling time for Aricept

and Lisinopril. Time for satin pajamas or a flannel nightgown and dreams
of nickels waltzing with nails, forks sashaying with pushpins.

omega man

Claire Scott’s work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam, and The Healing Muse, among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.