Wednesday, December 5, 2007


by Elizabeth Southwood, Oct. 29, 1998

Parkinsons murders some of its victims
though supposedly we die of other stuff.
When I swallow, Parkinsons chokes me.
It throws me off balance when I walk.
At different times in the last couple of years,
It has knocked me down cement stairs,
dashed my head on bricks,
slammed me on a street,
strained the tendons in a shoulder,
cracked a rib,
and fractured a hip.

While I was waiting to see the surgeon recently,
a bent woman with a walker smiled at me as she pushed by
and so did a down-jacketed, slow-walking man with a cane,
like members of a fraternity. Another member
and I shared war stories, both of us caged in walkers.
We compared our frequent falls -- unpredictable as the way
eucalyptus branches come crashing down
on a warm and windless summer day.

While I sat for five weeks, mending,
with my new stainless steel hip,
the sweet man for whom I’ve cooked
since we married cooked for me.
When I came home from the hospital
my cat avoided me in my walker for a week,
then finally settled by me, purring, and rubbed
it with his jaw and cheeks.
My family and friends warn me
to be careful, go slow, chew carefully.
I did and do. I’m not sure ‘careful’
is enough.

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