His Name Was Ken
My mother-in-law looks at the world through a small window
she would like to have cleaned but she can’t get it done.
So I come over to take her out for coffee,
and as her wheelchair bumps over the careful violence
of the street, she says be careful not to spill me out.
I am very careful especially when we go downhill
and I have to lean back so she doesn’t roll away
and pour out in front of the coffee shop.
She doesn’t want to wear the yellow sunglasses
we got her from the institute, but when we get outside
I can tell the glare is too much for her, so I lean over
and put mine on her and it's better.
She wonders if we’re lost, and I say no
we just haven’t been here before
so it’s a new experience like landing on the moon, and she
remembers watching that on TV with me
while her daughter was at a rehearsal
where the director wouldn’t let them stop
and I say no that wasn’t me.
I don’t know where I was at the time,
but it wasn't there.
She likes her sweets but worries about gaining weight
and I say hey! go for it — at ninety-one what have you got
to lose? And she tells me about her sister who died
and left some money to her grandson
who called to say it wasn’t enough
and she gets livid and sad.
I get her the smallest latte they have so it won’t keep her up.
She looks at her watch, and I tell her not to worry
I'll be sure to get her back in time for supper. After all, I say,
it’s not like returning from the moon.
It’s not like that movie
where they almost didn’t make it back.
She’s been to the moon too many times
and it's just too boring, she says.
She doesn't want to go again.
And then she asks if I remember the time
and I say no, that was another time.
His name was Ken.