As I walk in,
a woman straightens the chair on the patio outside her room.
Her Easter lily, parched, sits untended, one bloom left.
As I pass she says, I’m nuts, and blows me kisses,
her fingers touching her lips and the empty space between us.
One aide plays “string the pearls” with five women,
then plays “follow the leader”
and leads them off for rest time.
Each woman has a place at the table
and a room of her own.
In one room, ceramic dolls
in elegant kimonos bow
in a silent dance.
Into Louise’s room walks a stranger
saying, where’s my false teeth,”
sure she left them here.
The rhodies by Louise’s window
at the peak of their exuberance
bloom red and sturdy, as if
they will never droop
or leave the walkway carpeted with softness.
An aide comes to her room,
hands white with rubber gloves.
She puts her arm around Louise,
turns her away from me, and chats about the weather
as I slip away.
I was never there.