We handle her easy now,
like those thin drinking glasses
from the dime store.
Nobody raises their voice anymore.
Itís all hush! and Tiptoe!
The blinds stay shut.
Sick headache, thatís what they say.
But I have seen her on the porch,
lips moving and I know that she is counting.
Once she told me how many stones
lined the long dirt drive,
the number so absurd, but I knew it was precise.
Before, when she went away, I would slip
into her closet and search for her
between the dresses hung like fragrant cocoons.
I remember how she shone
before she shed the pretty husk of reason.
I'm the oldest so it falls to me
to maintain a fire line around her,
keep the little ones busy and quiet.
I bring her things on silent feet,
sliced oranges and damp cloths.
I smell her lilac talc, hear her sighs.
When she hands me back her empty glass
I hold it like a jewel.
I have learned some things.
If this glass breaks it cuts me.
I count the steps back to the kitchen.
Dale McLain lives in a terribly unpoetic suburb of Dallas, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and mixed media artist. Her poems have appeared in the Poets Gone Wild Anthology and on-line at Pen Himalaya.