Marjorie Maddox

A Few Moments After a Fall at Her Assisted Living Facility, My Mother Forgets

the tepid shower, how her body tipped
backwards off the stool, over the tub,
head smacking bathroom tile. The surprised aide
reaches too late the frail body, tries to rewind time:


the fallen body back in the tub, on the stool.
The second before, the aide is soaping the thin torso;
the second after: she is reaching too late the frail body
sprawled on the cold floor. The daughter comes running.


The second before, the aide soaps the thin torso,
turns to adjust the spray, then the clatter,
the naked woman sprawled on the cold floor. The daughter running
in from the other room, afraid. Whose face is screaming?


Turning to adjust the shower’s spray, the aide hears the clatter.
Her hands slippery, she cannot catch the woman
or, afraid, face the one from the other room. Every face is screaming.
Is there blood? Is she breathing? Lift and cradle her.


Her hands slippery, she cannot catch the woman
whose every bone protrudes. Will they break?
Is there blood? Is she breathing? Lift and cradle her.
She is as light as a corpse.


Her every bone protrudes. Did they break?
“Old woman, hold me tight, smile at your daughter.
You are as light as a corpse
but yourself, alive enough to forget


everything.” The old woman smiles at the daughter, holds tight the aide
who carries her to safety, dries her, puts her to bed.
Alive, she is enough herself
to forget everything. After the fall, she is


dried, carried safely to bed. The rest fades:
no head smacking the tile, no surprised aide.
She is herself, alive, a daughter beside her. It is enough.
No tepid shower (her body tipping),


no cold tile, no surprised aide.
Safe in bed, the rest fades.
Tepid memories tip. After the fall, she forgets.
She is alive again only in the moment.



Inarticulate Archive

(after the painting by Anna Lee Hafer)


“Shhh,” warns the librarian
wandering between silent aisles
while, in another location,


an author types exclamations
across boisterous pages. All the while,
the librarian shushes, her warnings


ignored by long-dead historians
resurrecting theories from top shelves
while, in another location,


wig-wearing Shakespeareans
perform elaborate dress rehearsals
warning the shushed librarian


to lighten up or face eviction
from overpopulated rows of novelists
who, in another location, chant,


“Close. Faraway. Setting! Setting! Setting!”
before banning all quiet archives
of librarians, their inarticulate warnings.

Meanwhile, in other locations . . . .


Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 13 collections of poetry—most recently Begin with a Question (Paraclete, International Book Award Winner) and Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts), an ekphrastic collaboration with photographer Karen Elias—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); 4 children’s and YA books. In the Museum of My Daughter’s Mind, based on her daughter’s paintings ( is forthcoming in 2023 (Shanti Arts).

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