It Depends

Six and sick,
I loved to lie abed
ringing the little bell mother
gave us to ring
when we needed
or wanted something,
mostly her undivided
attention all day long.
I’d ring the bell constantly
’til we were all out of
orange popsicles,
or she finally
took it away.

In the hospital there’s
no need for a bell,
the IV unit’s flashing
red lights, piercing scream
bring aides, LPN’s or RN’s
rushing to my side
to poke and probe
places no man,
and few women,
have gone before.
Defeated, I beg
for a popsicle,
orange, if you please,
just to appease
this growing dis-ease.

Released from the hospital,
still no need
for mother’s bell.
Leslie awaits
my every beck and call,
can barely stand
on my own two feet
before she’s there
to help me put
my pants on,
one foot at a time,
stuff this tube here,
that tube there,
replace bandages
in places I don’t
even want to see.
Finally, I send her
to the store, supposedly
for orange popsicles.

Hell isn’t fire or ice;
it’s ending up senile
in a nursing home
blabbering literary nonsense.
I ring mother’s bell,
and some sweet, charming
ex-student arrives,
wipes drool off my chin,
calmly sucks an orange popsicle
God clearly intended
for me.