Things Impossible to Swallow • poems by Pamela Garvey • number 24 in the 2River Chapbook Series2River

St. Jude's Nursing Home

I stole. From the stash. Roamed hallways half-baked, dressed
bed sores in a blur. Call buttons, moans, the wailing of Alzheimer’s—nothing but smoke

receding in a fog of rounds. My shoes floated along floors. Arms worked like wands.
Behind me Martha shuffled from chair to chair, shoved

spoonfuls of puddings she slipped in her pockets during dinner into howling
toothless mouths. And I let her. I let her crumble

meds she’d otherwise hide under her tongue, then spit
into potted plants. Cocksuckers from the CIA couldn’t fool her with stethoscopes.

See the bugs, she said in her smoker’s voice as she pointed
to the doctor’s light shining in Catherine’s vacant eyes. I nodded as she grasped

my hand, pumping it like a blood pressure gauge.
All the time glancing at Catherine, who stared back at me, or through me,

who if she could have uttered words might have woven her own conspiracy theories: me
a mouse hunting crumbs. Or an angel with lice infested wings.