He is 95, still strong, and wearing

diapers.  He reckons it a good day

when he stands before a toilet

with the seat up

and commands

anything but dribbles.


She is 93.  Her brain has corroded,

erasing all but little details

of her childhood in North Dakota,

and the Norwegian national anthem.

She wakes up shivering in soaked

ammonia-scented sheets and wonders

how they got that way.


The two sit on their sun-porch, nodding off.

Their gray-muzzled cocker spaniel looks

from one face to the other, whines, then

squats and pees between their chairs.


An hour from now the man will decree, again,

that tomorrow the dog will be put down.


The man cannot piss a stream,

cannot suicide,

nor euthanize his wife.

At least he can


that damned



Cynthia Trenshaw is a poet and explorer at the edges of our culture. She lives on Whidbey Island WA where she posts monthly blogs at CynthiaTrenshaw.com. Her latest book is Meeting in the Margins: An Invitation to Encounter Society’s Invisible People (She Writes Press, Berkeley).

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