The physical therapist laughed with the recreational therapists today as they moved my mother’s bed up, the tick tick sound reminding them of a roller coaster climbing, reaching the top, hearts starting to race as they prepare for the plummet. She had a sunshine smile, special. Today’s therapists all had sunshine smiles, abnormally bright and happy, clearly sincere. Must be in the moon’s waning slowly at night, something in the night air that fills them up too. Perhaps they have their own Ta’s that crawl into bed and curl up into small balls of joy and fill them with the life they need to do the jobs I find so difficult. I admire, and shrink, in guilted awe, as I watch them perform, touching and moving, where I cringe and hide. They wear blue, all blue, plastic blue aprons that cover from neck to knee, shoulder to wrist, meeting with rubber blue gloves. Gloves “of silk” my mother said once, when she was cold, asking me to give her the blue silk gloves to keep her hands warm.
Would I be able to touch more if I were protected by the blue silk gloves? I thought of that as I fled in guilt from the smells and sounds today, to hide in an overheated car, ready to embrace heatstroke and collapse from dehydration, if only to have a moment’s reprieve from the smells and sounds. How do they clean themselves?
Some of the black women wear the brightest uniforms, fuschia pink patterns with florescent greens and turquoises, flashing against their dark skin, finger nails just as enormous in psychedelic colors and intricate patterns almost embroidered into the nails. They’re in Honolulu garb, one would expect them to distribute lays as they pass by. And some smell so good I’m tempted to curl my nose up under the lobe of the ear and drink there. How would they react? Would they understand?
Why is it that no matter what perfume I put on, I cannot escape the smells? Yet one of these exotic birds flits by and I’m hypnotized, ready to follow, seeking the nest of colors and smells where they take their stregth. When they cover themselves in the plastic blue it only partially attenuates the effect, they have exotic accents and hair that continue working to create the island notes.
There is also a thin Russian woman, a tech. She is small and I wonder at how she can lift these large, large patients. She has a very strong accent despite her ten years in the States. We talked a bit and found we had been neighbors in Leningrad. It was too funny. She asked me where I lived and I thought surely I can’t remember as the words Prospect Metalistov slid easily out of my lips, my mind having absolutely no idea where they came from. Addresses must burrow themselves up in some remote part of the brain and lie dormant till the question comes and they easily slip out and reveal they’ve been there all along. She became completely animated explaining how she lived on the corner of Shosse Revolutsii and Prospect Metalistov, we surely took the same trolleybus daily. We both drifted off to the streets of Peter the Great, her standing holding some long suctioning instrument in her blue silk gloved hands. My mind hesitated between Boulgakov and Nabokov, searching for the appropriate fit to the scene. I think it settled on Nabokov. It all went too fast to tell. It is strange to travel thus when rooted so terribly in the real of the hospice. I hardly notice it when I’m there, yet wake at night trying to process the day, package it into written words that make it livable. There is not much else I can do.