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first steps

by Sandy M. Humphrey

the roles flip
become the hand that
tests the fevered brow
stretch the hand
to hold the straw
as water is sipped
slowly and cooly
from lips chapped
wipe sliver hair
away from eyes
looking for answers
not as sure as once was

still your lip that quivers
for your little girl
must be the strength
the pillar to steady
the shaky walk
as steps are slid
slowly behind
framed walker
learning to move
restructured hip
steel on bone
yet so fragile
is the framework

now is the time
to be the woman
she raised you to be
yet the little girl
waits with tears
in her eyes
waiting to see
the woman
made of steel
show her how
to do this
“please, momma”


Author's Note: Reversal of roles when we start to help care for aging parents, will we measure up? Will we take as good of care of them as they did of us as children? I sill feel like a child when I am with my mother...conundrum.

Posted on 03/16/2009
Copyright © 2020 Sandy M. Humphrey

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 03/16/09 at 07:02 PM

It's an interesting thought, really wonderfully handled here.

Posted by Nanette Bellman on 03/17/09 at 05:11 PM

I know this feeling all too well. My father become "disabled" a few years ago and to watch the man I called "daddy", the hero, the man of steel, have to struggle and suffer is hard. Very well done.

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 03/27/09 at 12:28 AM

You write convincingly and caringly of an increasing problem as longivity goes up. As an adult I've always tried to be understanding of the oldsters since I knew I might be there someday. Well, I am all too close for comfort! Still able to get around and make my own decisions but for how long? Very appreciative of this poem.

Posted by Glenn Currier on 09/26/09 at 05:28 PM

Brilliant, Sandy. Gees you take me back to those moments. I fear I was not so gentle and loving as you. Still an uneasy feeling haunts me about this son doubting that he measured up to the task. Your poem has a sadness in it, but a sense of commitment and attachment that blesses your parent. Beautiful poem, my dear.

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