the woman in the nursing home.
I recognize the woman in the nursing home,
the one who was once my mother.
Her voice has been lost.
It has gone from smooth talking sarcasm,
to slowly stuttering, to echolalia,
repeating intently whatever is heard.
That voice, the one I heard all my life,
went from garbled gibberish
to breathy whispering, to soft syllables
without any breath to propel them
floating like empty bubbles.
I have no way of knowing if
the words are launched by thoughts
or are just a fading reflex,
a remembrance of a time
when a thinking person was alive
inside that human shell
drooping in the wheel chair.
Without words, what remains?
A tongue that licks the hand
of a visitor, a glint that passes
too fast behind a glazed over eye,
a gesture with a thumb,
a breeze, a little bit of wind.
Madlynn Haber is a writer living in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in the anthologies Letters to Fathers from Daughters and Word of Mouth Volume Two, in Anchor Magazine and on the websites A Gathering of the Tribes and BoomSpeak. Writing since her childhood in Brooklyn through a career in human services, her work explores the human condition from multiple perspectives.