When his mother called for the second time
that day, she said:
“I don’t have any strength left. I want
to lay down all the time.”
“Did you take your iron?” he wanted to know.
He sincerely wanted to know. Praying daily,
hopelessly, that iron might make a difference.
“Yes, but it just makes me hungry. And I don’t
have anything to eat.”
He pointed out to her they’d shopped
for hours that morning. Brought home
eighty dollars’ worth of food to stack
in her cupboards and the fridge.
“There’s nothing to eat in this goddamn house
but baloney and cheese,” she said.
Her voice shook with anger. “Nothing!”
“And how’s your cat? How’s Kitty doing?”
His own voice shook. He needed
To get off this subject of food; it never
brought them anything but grief.
“Kitty,” his mother said. “Here, Kitty.
Kitty, Kitty. She won’t answer me, honey.
I don’t know this for sure, but I think she jumped into the washing machine
when I was about to do a load. And before I forget,
that machine’s making
a banging noise. I think there’s something
the matter with it. Kitty! She won’t
answer me. Honey, I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of everything. Help me please.
Then you can go back to whatever it was
you were doing. Whatever
it was that was so important
I had to take the trouble
to bring you into this world.”