The Ideal Visitor

Cornered tree with huge drooping leaves, 

 in a banana clutch,

  waxen, seamed with light,

   She will park right here under...

Left eye clutched in pain 

 a porridge headache

  3 days cold

Time to drive to the institution du jour 

 clean clothes yet another drive,

  stack of magazines, staples removed,

   yet another hospital, 

    park in the corner under the tree

     leave the drooping self in the car,

      take the persona inside to banter with the guards,

      be the one they remember on the walk to the locked unit

Quick flash of greeting-

 the son’s green eyes too wide for the highway 

  black pinpoint iris skitters up and down, then pulls aside 

   to let her eye contact pass

Visitor, ideal, makes eye contact with the highway, 

 with the security guard stuffed in the stiff uniform,

  with the tissue crumpled by the trash can 

   which cannot be picked up without another tissue. 

So much waste on waste

The son drifts a new tissue up towards his nose, 

 then lets it float down across his face,

  a paper gaze for the mother,

   a moment of funny, as it wafts up and down 

    above his grandpa’s big nose. 

There are familiar questions  answers, 

  did you eat, did you bathe, did you sleep

   beneath the horrible blank of fluorescent light, 

Her left eye closing with pain,

 a porridge view, rim of dried oat-soaked 

   a moment of funny, as they consider what

    flour-essence lights could be

The guard nods in, kindly 

 there’s no time left

  Ritual embrace and parting 

   the tree’s weird foliage, not bananas unless bananas

    are flat, the fakeplastic sheen, 

     the glare off the cars ahead, 

      the winking of the BotsDots,

      her pain as the great surrender,

    the crust of the day gives way

  the weird trees, the long walk, the carapace of car,

 the seaming of selves, tissue thin line, the drive, streetlights

   for miles, there he is, thar, and

     in the car, after many miles, you leave him


Oh, those memories of appetites, silver ewers of Austrian cocoa, tiered plates of miniature glazed cakes, buttered scones with more butter on the side, those High Teas of the bedroom, the sand dune, the backseat of the vroom vroooom, sexing up the museums, languorous hours of staring and wandering speculating rarely glancing outside, Fosbury flop lie back on the padded bench when the guard turns away, then a giggling sprint to the outside, to the forest, the real debauchery of moss up the trunks, moss over the bracken, moss that spores into your tangled hair, your slightly sweating waistband under the gore-tex layer resisting the bright shafts, the steam rippling air, so moist and buttery, wood scent cocoa’ed fur up the nostrils, landscapes never painted dry because there’s squelch underfoot, worms dropping out pockets,  wind rolling in the hammocks, paintbrush dropped and lost in the sheets in the sand in the floor mat, the undertow of thought churn, some scenes too cherished to feel from one perspective, so you melt into many,  moisten into the sub terrain, must run your hand down the damp velvet cattail, waft up in the air with the cloud of singing chironomids, a billionzillion midges that may not bite you they may not they may not bite you as they crowd your space, spit-visual stormspatter to drive you away in epic murmuration pattern greekchorus polyphony carrying no promise of tomorrow.

Per Dahlin is overjoyed to publish her first work with HOT PINK. She is a retired teacher, currently a nanny in California, and happy participant in several writing circles.