Bless the slow sharp light of spring
that woke us up early and how I go
through the motions: get up, wash face,
comb hair. Bless dirty clothes, the
small feet, the laces. Bless the bad
breakfast, the too-sweet snack. Bless
coats and arguing about them and seatbelts.
Bless the scary Christian daycare.
The long drive to work. Bless the feeling
that I can’t go on. Bless the ugly
concrete buildings and the lawns trampled
by so many feet, seeded every year but
never green and the stairs that reach up
floor after floor. Bless no windows
and the long hall lit by buzzing
fluorescents but still dim. Bless the pine
cleaner and sweat, the door, its tiny window,
the handle that never works. Bless the door
that opens when I push and the step
over that jamb into the cinderblock room.
Bless the desks made of woodpulp and
formaldehyde and plastic laminate
and the phones and the pens and the people
who show up today. Bless the ones
who look up and smile and the ones who do not,
the homework doers and the homework
don’ts and that someone already raised
the blinds and a little sun comes in and that
by the time I get to the front of the room
I have thought of something to say and that
doing this day after day makes a place
where they will say something back
to the dark and the silence
we blessedly come from.
I want one of those robots
to carry me and feed me
and change my pants and
clean my chin and sing
my favorite song (or hum)
and (if I decide I’m done)
offer twenty ways to die
free of pain. Settings
include Quick, Moderate, and,
for those who want to savor,
Snail. Each hipoldster needs
one, keyed in to their DNA
so even their own kids
can’t stop them going
where they want to go.
A pleasant scent will mist
my closing eyes when I provide
my dementia-proof password,
so individual and unhackable
not even Hospice will know.
Nancy White is the author of Sun, Moon, Salt; Detour; and Ask Again Later. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Beloit Poetry Review, New England Review, and Ploughshares. She serves as editor-in-chief at The Word Works and teaches at SUNY—Adirondack.