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Saturday, October 10, 2020


by Maria Lisella

I take notes … 

… on my iPhone as if it were a reporter’s notebook, efficient and cool.
Detached, my voice raises itself to inquire to questions I already know the answers to, skull-filed so many decades ago for future reference.

Reams of notes record incidents: calls to 911, a tossed chair, hunger strikes, “behavioral” issues they call them, I surmise when he can no longer tolerate

The cinderblock walls, the fenced-in windows, the odors of bleach and Pine Sol and alcohol, the wails and wants of other residents looking for a way home.

This time I even suggest sedation, but before that, attention.

In this pandemic his thwarted life has shrunk to Lilliputian size—no socializing in the  halls, no dance or music classes or current events discussions—no smoking on the deck on cool nights.

Just this: a metal-framed cot-like bed with his poppy-printed gleeful sheets he received for Christmas to remind him he is special after all.

Apart from the rest, for he gets company and kisses and snacks and cigars, jeans and peanuts, Irish Spring soap and coconut shampoo.

He smells like a tropical breeze, is clean and fresh all day long.

He withdraws from the halls to the sounds of the Greek language as his blind fingers make love to Alexa and he mouths the words of a country he dreams of but will never see.

Maria Lisella is the recipient of a Poet Laureate Fellowship from the American Academy of Poets; she co-curates the Italian American Writers Association readings and is a travel writer by trade.