My mother is standing on the bank of the river,
clutching her carton of easy drink,
her stomach tube, her plastic vial of oxygen.
There is no boat for her yet. I call Citibank,
pretend to be Barbara. Scribbled on an envelope,
her mother’s maiden name, her social security
number, her date of birth. The year is 1926.
Chicago has a West side, a South side.
The Jews move around. Grandpa Ben has not
died from a heart attack. Dodo is the most beautiful
of the sisters. I get my son to help me fool the bank.
We need to change her mailing address.
There is no more stucco house in Evanston.
The new owners are taking down the trees,
blowing plaster into the neighbor’s yard.
My sister sent me pictures, but I’ll never go back.
I say never as if I know what that means.
I make my voice wobbly for the nice lady
in the call center. This is me at ninety-four,
ninety-five. She is most sympathetic,
and my mother is going nowhere, another word
which is easy to say, not like forever,
which sticks in the throat, impossible to swallow.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 2.
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