At the Nursing Home by Leland James

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—inside an old man vacant by the window

Hold me occasionally for the light is fading
and I can no longer see the hills that once
rose there, brown hills, sand, sand  I see
the color, like the brown shoulders of a girl
I knew by the lake, outside the window.
Did I marry her? Were there children?
Is that snow? Is it winter already again?

I remember her shoulders, not her face
or name. I remember your face sometimes
(are they your shoulders?) and your touch.
Hold me occasionally. The hills are gone,
and monotony. I know that word, but I
could not say it to save my life and wouldn’t.
A strange world, monopoly. It tastes like bleach.

My life is there in a thimble on the night stand
only I can see. I stare at it for hours. Hold me
occasionally. There is no hurry. The light fades
slowly. It seems the last part of some other day,
and the thimble holds so little. The hills are gone
and soon the thimble will tip slowly over.
It will make no sound, nothing will spill.

2014

This was the third place poem of The London Magazine’s first worldwide Poetry Competition 2014