The Home – a poem by John Ian Bush

 

Part One

 

Today we visited my Grandma Allison at the nursing home.

I walk through the automatic doors to the smell of urine,

To the sound of ringing phones

And to the screaming voices of the old:

“Where am I?”

“Who are you?”

“God damn it, I wanna go home!”

“Hey, you God damn fool, I wanna go home!”

“Can no one hear me! I’m telling you I wanna go home!”

“Don’t touch me, I don’t know you!”

 

Decoying bodies.

Wrinkled skin.

Catheters.

Adult dippers.

Oxygen machines!

Their groans!

“I need help!” cries an old man in a bed at the end of the hall. “You rotten bastards! You faggots! You son-of-bitches! Somebody help me!”

 

In the lobby, the old pale withered people in their sad worn wheel chairs sit around the television, the weather channel is playing — old people love the weather channel; some smile, some sleep, some mutter to themselves words of nonsensical madness.

 

“I can’t breathe!” the man at the end of the hall screams! “You son-of-bitches! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”

 

The feeling of death and approaching death is overwhelming.

I began to think that bed sores have a smell.

Vaseline, God, the smell of it!

They must wash the walls with it!

The windows and counters must be washed with preparation H!

Everything smells like piss, fish and rubbing alcohol.

 

“I can’t breathe!”

He never stops screaming.

 

“I

Can’t

Breathe!

I

Can’t

Breathe!

I can’t Breathe!”

 

The workers and the nurses all ignore this.

I.Vs seem to outnumber the people in this Hell hole.

I was starting to feel very Nihilistic.

 

 

Part Two

 

 

Finally, we’re in Grandma Allison’s room.

She is a stick now,

wrapped in thin, almost yellow skin,

Dressed in a tired old night gown,

4

 

Feet cover with thick socks.

“How are you?” we asked.

She just stared.

 

“How are you feeling today?” we asked.

She turned away.

 

“We love you,” we said.

She moaned in pain.

 

“I can’t breathe! You fuckers! You fuckers! You fuckers! You faggots! You fat whores!” yelled the man down the hall.

 

And she moaned again!

That moan!

That moan!

I thought she’d die with that moan!

 

The Home is full of moans

And Groans!

And cries

And more moans!

5

 

And fucks!

And Helps!

And yelps!

And ringing telephones!

 

The Home is full of shrieks!

And squeal!

And men bawling!

And eyes with tears!

And nurses wearing scrubs and fake grime smiles wheeling in meals,

Meat and potatoes that Grandma Allison won’t eat.