Last night, I covered my mother’s jade plant with a sheet. It was late, and I was too tired to move the giant clay pot it’s in from the front step back into the garage. This morning’s low temperature was thirty-two degrees. Awhile ago, I removed the sheet, disturbing a crane fly that had taken shelter on the underside. The lacy, long-legged creature let go with a light shake, as did a few other small insects and bits of jade debris.

I gathered the sheet into a small lump and brought it back inside. It was ten-thirty. Now it’s eleven. My mother is still asleep. If I don’t tell her about what I did, she will never know. If I do tell her, she will forget what I said within a few minutes, or be confused about it in some sadly illogical dimension, or surprised to suddenly learn, for the third or fourth time this week, that fall has arrived.

Instead, if I mention sheets at all, I will do so in the dusty bright-blue context of 1964, back in the days when she used to hang them on the line, before we had a clothes dryer. She will like thinking about that. But to make the picture clear in her mind, I will have to describe our old house and backyard, the plants, garden, and trees, the equipment shed, and the clothesline itself, made by my father of redwood posts and vineyard wire. Truly, the rugged cross-members were worthy of at least a minor crucifixion. I would also remind her about the wooden clothes pins, and the sound and smell and feel of them when I’d reach into the heavy cloth bag for the next one to hand to her.

After that, I would probably talk about ironing. My mother loved to iron, and I loved to watch. Again, there was that wonderful sound and smell of ironing, and the ceremonial sprinkling of water on the clothes. And the squeaking of the ironing board as she went about her work.

Eleven-fifteen. Anymore, if I don’t wake her, she will sleep the day away. And if I wasn’t here to take care of her, she wouldn’t know what pills to take and she would starve.

And so I live with this strange knowledge in my head, and all these memories, hers and mine. And my wife and I have a grandson, almost eleven months old. He likes my mother. But there is a good chance he won’t remember her when he’s grown. And what if he stumbles onto this note at some strange future date? Will he say, “Is this really Grandpa?”

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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