Before my mother died, I avoided her. Oddly, the last thing she said to me was Thank You. Even then she wasn’t talking much. “Hot tea,” I had just told her caretaker. “Make hot tea with honey for her throat.” That was before the stomach tube. Before the cartons of Easy Drink, the suction catheters, the diapers and hospital bed, the smell of urine, the mattress we threw out. Before the leaks from every pipe in the apartment, the crews of plumbers, the stink of tar on the balcony, the swindler who left us to go on a pilgrimage, the burned door. It was after she left on the gas, but before the neighbors stopped visiting, when we no longer needed a paid companion, but before the private nurse, the boundary line between still trying and not pretending. It was the time of the couch, the lounger, the blanket and the wheelchair. The days of naps that blossomed into fog.
My brother calls. He’s discovered a box of old photos. A treasure trove! I tell him to throw them all out.
Jane Medved is the author of Deep Calls To Deep (winner of the Many Voices Project, New Rivers Press) and the chapbook Olam, Shana, Nefesh (Finishing Line Press) Recent essays and poems have appeared or are upcoming in The Laurel Review, Mason Street, Ruminate, The North American Review, and The Normal School. Her awards include winner of the 2021 RHINO translation prize and the 2021 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize – Honorable Mention. Her translations of Hebrew poetry can be seen in Cajibi, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Copper Nickel. She is the poetry editor of the Ilanot Review, and a visiting lecturer in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv.