Some childhood memories stay with you, as clear as they day they happened. But the meaning of those memories changes I think.
partly from the morning sun
partly in fear.
One of the last through the doors,
cold heavy steel pushes against my bare arms
A wave of ammonia hits me in the face as soon as I step in,
mingled with the odors of sweat, vomit, loneliness and death,
they drive through my nose and mouth, up my eyes, through my forehead,
and into the section of my brain programed for fight or flight.
A howl scream moan comes from somewhere inside.
I hesitate in the doorway.
My Sunday school teacher bumps into me and
gently pushes me into the entryway.
The other kids have formed a line.
Last in, I find myself at the end,
Children sing while I scan the room.
Three grandmothers sit near us,
smiling, keeping time with their heads and feet.
Others, further back, sit, staring at nothing.
Wandering zombies complete the picture.
One closes in from the left.
Slowly spinning, her wheelchair describing a large arc,
propelled by one tenacious foot, the only part of her that seems to live.
As she eases past I catch her eye.
Her head tilted, translucent sagging skin melts off her face
and mingles with the line of spit dangling from her open mouth.
As her eyes meet mine, she greets me. “Aarrrrrrghhhhhhh.”
Does her foot pause as she passes me? Her chair slow?
I look away, pretend to sing,
stare at the back of the room, at nothing,
wait for this to end, and
try not to breath
in the loneliness.