Our last poem by WVFC contributing writer Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard, "Maud," was about a special great-grandmother in London who presided over her own tidy kingdom, surrounded by loving items from her past and present. Today’s piece on aging is more somber, and brings to mind stories we’ve recently come across about elder care and assisted living — health care issues that require serious attention this political season.

"Where They Put You" begins after the jump.

Where They Put You
for Blanche Boulanger

People are coming in and out of focus,
through the lens you can’t adjust
when we walk through the door
of Aldridge House. The light swims
in your eyes, you are glad we are here.
How nice to be with you again,
you smile as if we had stepped
out of years, although
it has only been days.

Do I have a home? you ask,
knowing somehow that this featureless
room is not a room
to live in but someplace
temporary like a train
only a train stuck
in its tracks, the seats
all the same, the aisles busy
with strangers. Who put me here?
you insist. I try to tell you
how, when, why
but all you want
is yes or no
all you want is the truth.

I call you Blanchette
as your mother once did
in Grenoble, hoping to bring
you back to yourself.
You are not here
at this anonymous table
you never set, before plates
that appear and disappear.
You are not here,
but suddenly you tell me,
My parents had a restaurant
in Grenoble you know, that’s why
I was never interested in food.

I cannot bring you
back to where you do not
wish to go; to remember
that once you had a husband,
once it was you who arranged the flowers
on the altar for Easter,
you who took care of all the accounts.
I clasp you in my arms
as if I were leaving
you at the terminal
and there was only one minute left.

Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard

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