Blue Cactus

Mother’s back to help with my memory.
No more dwelling on her days on the floor
without food or water—I wasn’t hungry,

remember?I don’t, but I can tell how
she purses her lips she’s determined
I’ll quit harping on her agony.

If only I’d stop imagining her
lying there abandoned
with throbbing fractures—

You know I never liked that much
attention. She clutches my arm
as we shuffle past the big blue saguaro

to check into her final berth.
That phony cactus, so soft I could
bare-hand it without hurt, tips me off

that I’m dreaming. In life
she arrived at the hospice
after an injury-jarring ride.

Now son, I told you those memories
aren’t helping anyone. Look over
at the little girl across the hall, bright

as a sparrow in spite of her disease.
She wants you to sit on her bed
and tell her a story. Tell her about

the ice cream planet, the river of rhyme.
Give her the food off my tray.
A pink lady raises the blinds

and outside stands that fake cactus
as if it would take my mother
into its padded arms.

Breaking Down Familiar, Main Street Rag Publications