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The Door Never Closes

By Ruth Bacharach

PROMPT—No one noticed ...

I’m constipated. I have diarrhea, and I have to

reveal my bowels to everyone.

When I want to tell my daughters,

I am scared, in pain, adrift,

the LPN interrupts.

I ask her to check the bandage because it’s loose.

The bandage only gets checked Mondays and Thursdays.

It is Tuesday.

When I say I’m tired and need to rest, the caseworker keeps talking.

When I say I need pain medication before physical therapy,

the charge nurse says she can’t authorize it.

But she could have helped me navigate.

She knew how. She knew how and didn’t help.

All night, the hallway light leaks into my room.

The staff chatter like deckhands in a language from far away.

How can I interrupt their simple pleasure?

Every week, I fill out a menu.

I ask for warm grilled cheese and get turkey with cold tomatoes.

I ask for rice pudding like I gave

my daughters when they were sick.

None appears. Nevermind!

The desserts are cruise-ship delicious.

I imagine I’m reclining on a deck chair.

The incessant ringing of the call bells are buoys

guiding the ship. I close my eyes

and choose to feel

a gentle roll.


Ruth Bacharach is a retired librarian. She writes from Lake Forest Park, WA.


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