His Name Was Ken

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.