The Visit

My only mother, who lost sixty pounds, tried to stand up in the bathroom 

and fell backwards on the white linoleum floor in the first hour of the morning 
and was carried to the bed in the nurse's arms and then abruptly 

opened her eyes, later, the room dark, and twisted the needles in her arms 

and talked to her dead friend, Rosie, and heard the doorbell ring 
as though in the kitchen in the old place deciding if she should answer, 

rubbing the circle on her finger where the wedding ring once was 

while slipping downward on the sheets like a body without limbs and I slid 
my good arms beneath her arm-pits and pulled her bony body up 

against the two thin pillows. And then, when she was asleep again, 

I walked down the hallway's arc of yellow light, ghosts hovering 
on either side of the doors of rooms where the strange sickness 

of being alive was the last thing between dreaming and eternity 

which closes like the ocean closes over the blue-starry body 
and does not stop, and I understood again that we never come back, 

and upright, with everything that takes its life seriously, I returned to my mother. 

Copyright© 2005 by Jason Shinder. First published in The American Poetry Review, November/December 2005. From his forthcoming collection to be published by Graywolf. Appears with permission of the Literary Estate of Jason Shinder.