She calls to me from the balcony – using the wrong vowel –
during her four o’clock cigarette break.
I tell her I can’t stay long,
immediately wishing I hadn’t,
but she understands.
Her yellowed fingers pet my dog
as she hunchback mumbles
I’ve been looking for you. Where have you been?
After her partial burns to the filter,
we weave through wheelchairs and walkers
and she waves a Miss America wave.
One looks up from rocking a plastic baby to sleep,
but the one watching fish swim
from the bottom of the tank to the top
and back down again
must not have noticed.
When we get to her room
I prop her feet and tuck her in.
I don’t know who she was
before she waved at passing cars.
Before Velcro straps pinched her feet.
Before holes from clumsy Pyramids
speckled her sweat pants.
But I sit in her padded wheelchair,
while she laughs at the credits on the TV
and only look at the clock once.