i do not recognize her,
the round-cheeked, round-bellied zombie with the sad eyes
who catches my gaze in rearview mirrors, medicine cabinets,
and storefront windows these days.
she is run ragged
thick-jowled, furrow-browed, angry.
she carries a grief backpack loaded with wet rocks,
the extra weight causes poor posture and a misaligned hip.
makes her say things like “ahh! my hip flexors!”,
as she rises, slowly, in the morning,
out of bed.
She dresses like a hostess might the day after guests leave-
knees raw from scrubbing floors,
leftovers dried with abandon where she has wiped
her hands on her thighs rather than walking
the seven unfathomable steps required to fetch
a napkin or washrag.
she is old
which is not to be confused with elderly
old, as in no longer young
old, as in the age you are when you start receiving more
invitations to funerals than weddings.
eye cream old
she swears off aperitifs and nightcaps
chases an increasingly large morning menagerie of meds with tap water
considers gym memberships during bouts of insomnia
wears guilt like a carefully selected wardrobe piece
she spent too much money on and therefore
can’t stand to see get worn or stained or wrinkled.
she is the before picture in a supplement advertisement
the blue-collar worker after a long shift
the woman in the old folks’ home who has no visitors
but still refuses to talk to nurses or get a pet.
She is a cautionary tale in grief.
i do not recognize her.