A small word like attrition takes on new meaning when you see how he labors to lift one foot or pick up and hold one ceramic mug. Increments, instants. A pain which keeps blossoming, running wild, the way a kudzu vine unfurls in a quick-motion film. What won’t it swallow? There is a time when will is not enough, and to come there is like that instant on the edge of a pool when you decide to jump and spread your arms. No, it is more frightening. His eyes within his creased face have not changed—measuring, considering, but what is left to consider? A pie carved at by a knife with only some of the burned outer-crust clinging to the pan. We keep conserving what we can—withered, partial. He does his part by performing the tasks no matter how difficult. I don’t want to watch, but I can’t turn away. Here is the cup I hand to him, from which he still drinks.
Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (Educe Press, 2017). She is a co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Birmingham Review, The New York Times and other places. She currently divides her time between San Antonio, TX, and Washington, DC.