on pastel green
flutters above the wrinkles
ringing her eyes.
A feminine embarrassment,
At odds with
the story of the cracks and twists of these strong limbs.
So thin, yet knotted to tell a saga
of work without end.
Gently, I try, to push away
the smallest sections of her clothing,
that allows me to still examine effectively.
She mumbles her humiliation
but the pain overcomes
Small bulge of her stomach undulates unnaturally
under the prominent ridges of the ribcage.
Decades have been etched into this fragile skin, and her hair
tangles around her ears,
where knobby fingers can no longer reach with the comb.
I wonder how it is that
she has come alone.
I ask her of her children.
She shakes her head violently,
and pulls her too-pink dress over her knees
A sudden surge of strength.
“I’m sorry,” I try,
“They are all here,”
Twisted fingers wobble,
every corner of the room.
“They are there, I –“
Head jerks upon this thin neck
Side to side,
Skin that sags, jumping with her racing pulse.
Fingertips tremble at the hem of her dress.
Her gray hair,
As she begins to still, glints silver in the jungle sun.
The words come out like a moan.
“It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re here now. You’re here.”
I squeeze her shoulder.
Tuck the stringy knots of hair
Behind her twitching ear.
She moves into my touch, but
how she reacts
seems unfamiliar with the closeness.
Without a thought to my intention, I wrap both arms
She weighs less than a child.
“I am forgotten,”
A small skeleton, rocking in my embrace.
Case notes summarize,
“No physical aberration.
Patient’s symptoms inexplicable.
Rx: Medium-strength painkillers.
will lie useless
in an empty drawer
While lonely arms envelop her own thin frame.
Sometimes there is no cure.