To begin, my mother must bend slowly:
a foot lifts, passes into the rolled nylon.
Hands crab up the leg, easing fine mesh
over each knee. She unbends,
draws the fabric over her hips,
exhaling in spurts of exertion.
As the chair catches her fall,
it knocks out a sigh.

There was a time she stood on one leg
to add red paint to a carousel horse.
A time her hands wet a thread,
caught the eye in one try.
A time they flexed stems,
coaxed Camellias into an ikebana vase.

Now, thumb and forefinger fumble
each disc through its buttonhole,
to rest, anchored by a shred.
All this before 9 AM.
To sit, to read, even just to nap,
knowing her skirt is smooth,
stockings straight, laces tied,
earrings, lipstick, rouge.

First Published in Touch: Journal of Healing