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Frederick Pollack  







Caregivers can’t afford the time

to daydream, resent, feel self-conscious.

It could screw up their schedule

for pills, meals, shots, or relieving

some other family member,

who has to go to work. Yet in the midst

of changing bags and sheets, or turning

a body over to check bedsores,

a phone may ring (“Congratulations!”),

the radio turn staticky,

the TV insufficiently innocuous.

Then for a moment caregivers

think of great obstructive slabs

inserted into life like artificial

coral reefs that will not work

in an ocean already too acidic;

of God and His motives;

or, seldom and most painfully, of people.


What they feel, unknowing, at such times

are the watchers

who sit in different, cooler, cleaner air

behind invisible intertemporal glass.

The firm behind these tours

puts an old-fashioned light on them

in ads: proceeds to charity

(except for administrative costs).

Hard to say where the appeal

lies, the greater grotesquerie:

the bending, fussing, endless motion

of the healthy ones, the way they talk,

even sing to their charges; or those charges.

The watchers, who will never of course

need anyone, know words

for what they’re seeing, apply them; they slip off.

Kids, dragged along

perhaps to be edified, giggle at the sounds.






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