Pre-dawn Pole Dance (Poem)
Caregiver and poet Alesa Lightbourne with her husband Rich
The Tibetan singing bowl dings — not so gently.
That’s my name these days.
I stumble out of a deep sleep To the hospital bed in the living room.
“The urinal broke,” he says in apology. And so it has.
Or rather, the tube came off the part you pee in. And the whole bed is soaked.
This is the fourth time he’s woken me up tonight. Not that I’ve been counting or anything.
So I cram his feet into shoes and click on the gait belt, Pull him up to sit on the side of the bed, Draw up the wheelchair
— oops — got to go get a towel to protect the seat, Heave him to a stand at the bedside transfer pole, Rock and pivot with him around the pole Until we can tip him into the wheelchair.
Then strip the bed — the pink disposable pad, The cotton transfer pad, The fitted bottom sheet, The colored top sheet, And assorted pillowcases that have gotten wet.
As I’m taking them all to the washer, It occurs to me... We should make a party of the absurd.
So while wiping down the rubber underpad with Pine Sol, I tell Siri to play the Beach Boys, And we sing (or mostly I do) And shake it up to Surfin’ USA. I remake the bed, layer by layer.
Then it’s back to the transfer pole, Heave up, pivot pivot pivot ‘til he’s in position, — and then — pause.
It’s a Moment. We both feel it.
So I pull him close with my free hand. We hug, sway chest to chest with the pole between us, (Siri has moved on to Surfer Girl)
A slow dance like we did back in college. And he’s 20 years old again, Gangly, tall, awkward, HIM.
49 years ago — how could it be that long? — And it’s not the college dining hall But it’s similar music, similar sweetness, A similar discovery of Essence.
When he’s tucked back in, And I can finally stumble to my own (hopefully some day once again our) bed, He calls out as I head down the hall. “Hey, it could have been 2:30 instead of 6:00.”
Very funny. But very true.
Do you love me? Do you, Surfer Girl…
“Yeah. And it could have been poop instead of pee.”