Original Poem — My Most Important Rule

This is a poem I wrote three years ago.

 

My Most Important Rule

I’ve been visiting the Old Folks Home,

(excuse me, “assisted living”)

to see my mother.

In the process, I’m getting to know the other residents.

 

There is the woman who talks to me every day

except I can’t understand a word she says.

 

The man who walks with his head down

and constantly mumbles to himself.

 

The woman who carries a baby doll

and cries much of the time.

 

The man who seems well,

but his hands are so gnarled he can’t feed himself.

 

The woman who got very angry with me

because I stopped her from drinking from the flower vase.

 

The man who reaches to pick up something

that only he can see.

 

There is a set routine:

bingo on Mondays,

arts and crafts on Tuesdays,

travel log on Wednesdays,

trivia on Thursdays,

piano bar on Fridays.

 

Breakfast starts at 8,

lunch at 11:30,

dinner at 4:30.

 

There’s usually the smell of urine in the corners

and an old black & white movie on the TV.

 

A dog freely roams the building

and is friendly only if given a treat.

 

The doors are all kept locked

because some will wander

into the first accessible room.

 

And people mostly sit

in various stages of slumber.

 

I visit almost every day.

I watch, and listen,

and everything is fine

if I remember my most important rule:

don’t extrapolate my life forward.

 

I’m not young myself, you know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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