Meditations on an Altered State by Barbara McGaw

The doctor says Mother
has a hole in her head
right next to the shunt
he put in last September
Months passed and
she’s aged, ravaged
replaced by
this Alzheimer’s wreck
in a wheelchair
Talk flows above her
of fluid shifts,
infection, suggestions for repairs
Trim the hairs around it and keep it clean
The sinkhole draws my attention
I scissor cut around the spot
lightly blowing on the hairs
She’s cautioned to stay still
her little girl’s voice says all right
Father lives in an altered state
sustained by cresting moods
swimming on the waves of scattered fears
confused thoughts
During narcoleptic days and nights,
he sloughs off the seconds of her disease
The three of us are lurid in lamplight
as she drags us from bed
to sofa in unceasing rotations
He faces Mother’s hallucinations
as he would a beast
Lost-eyed and lumbering
with no grace in sight
he finds solace in her disconsolate face