The crunch of gravel on the circular driveway

startled her as we drove up to the front door.

All she would say is “no, no, no, no, no, no, no,”

as if her head was about to be placed under a guillotine.

She had once been a ruby red jewel of the Nile

whose pendulous breasts overflowed

like a sister of Assisi for all she embraced,

a radiant North Star of the firmament,

here on earth a stolid caretaker,

guaranteeing whatever it is will be taken care of.

Cerebral insults to her brain left her wordless,

flailing her arms and stomping her feet

like a tantrummy toddler,

unable to get the gist of her family’s concern.

When she went shopping she couldn’t find her

way back, wandering streets like a lost child.

Her checkbook was scrambled, a bouncing

mish mosh of generous checks to all who asked.

Her octogenarian body was delicately balanced

on the verge of a diabetic coma collapse

as she slurped Del Monte’s tropical fruit salad

and devoured her favorite key lime chiffon pie.

She was blissfully blind when her colostomy

bag was full and didn’t seem to mind piddling

a stream down her legs into her shoes.

When the nurse calmed her down, soothing her fears

about what to expect, she asked for a pen and wrote on a pad:

“Last Stop!”

We walked out the door awash in tears unable to drown

out parting words from a lady who never cursed

once in her life: “bastard, bastard, bastard,”

is all we could hear as we drove off not knowing

we were letting go as she was destined to not last a week.