Daily Archives: December 20, 2021

Nursing Home Dogwalker

“I hate bingo. I like cribbage.”
Random enough talk from an old woman
a physical therapist is walking 
up and down the rehab center’s hall.
“I like cribbage too,” sys the therapist.
“That’s a good game.” “Maybe we
could play sometime…” and then it trails off
as they get away from me. I pull out 
the notebook, write it all down. I’m like that.
When it come to people, I’m a metaphysical
dog walker. You see me talking, hear something
coming out of my mouth, sounds like 
something I made up or felt or chose
but truth be told — and this one’s true
I promise — I don’t have many original thoughts.
(No one does, really; at least I admit it.)
Everything I say has a leash on it
and  secretly I know I borrowed it from someone
as if I knew they wanted me to take it out for a stroll,
or would have been glad to know I’d thought 
enough of their utterances to let them loose
on the larger world. Dignified them with craft. 
Doing all this hard work of listening and then
trotting out the words of others like eager puppies
as if this work I’ve been made to do paid me
instead of others. As if I just like words
as much as the rest of the world likes dogs,
and walking them is its own goal. Meanwhile
the bingo game’s getting underway
in the common room, the patients are being wheeled in
with their markers and oxygen and cards.
“B14…G5…” Nothing here needs me, and neither
does my father, resting in his room  
down the hall, away from the yapping and 
the physical therapy that he no longer needs;
neither does my mother in her room across the way,
disdaining all the socializing, impatiently insisting
she could go home tomorrow if we let her. That dog
won’t hunt, as the old timers say. It’s not something
worth discussing, and I’ve got other dogs
I can’t wait to walk, if only to get me out of here.