Tuesday, December 4, 2007


She is home from the hospital – right arm strapped to her side across her chest, immovable. The empty right sleeve of her shirt sways like a metronome, setting the tempo as she walks gingerly across the muddy lawn and up the steps to the house.

home at last –
greeting the dog
wrong handed

Three times a day I have to undo the straps and carefully straighten her arm, easing it against the spasms of muscle cramp. Lurid paisley bruises cover her chest, and a tiny line of stitches march millipede fashion across her collarbone. For ten minutes, three times a day, she has to remain motionless:

the third time
today –
that same cryptic crossword

Neither of us is ready for this role reversal. Not knowing where to look as I give her a sponge bath, trying to remain impersonal and unembarrassed as I soap her breasts, her nipples becoming erect in the cross draft from the door as I pat her dry . . . silly. I am the age she was when she gave birth to me.

my mother’s breasts –
we both giggle

by Joanna Preston
Christchurch, New Zealand
first published in listening to the rain, 2002

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