It’s 5am when I emerge from the bathroom into the dark hallway
To find my mother clutching her arm
The nerve block wore off she sobs
Voice high pitched and wavering
Face twisted in agony
Pain referring from her tissues to mine.
I’m so sorry, Mom, let me help you—
I guide her to a chair at the table
Twist the cap off the Percocet
Pour a cup of water
The pill slides down her throat as I rush back
To the toilet bowl
I never felt nausea from someone else’s pain before.
In her yard I see hedges, grass and trees
It’s quiet here in suburban San Diego
Not like Brooklyn with its sirens and fireworks
Construction and middle-of-the-night yelps.
Love is a sling
Deceptive in strength
Like the branches of trees
That make leaves possible
That make flowers and fruit.
And withstand storms.
I hurry back from the bathroom
Help my mother to the couch
Prop her up with pillows
Strap on the cooling compression device
Fill the water to the line
Drop in the ice, plug in the machine, put her feet up.
Switch on soft music as she lays back, eyelids fluttering shut.
Lilting melodies wrap around the wound
Like the cellophane I’ll wrap before her shower
After we remove the adhesive tape and
Dressings soaked through with blood.
I’ll support her arm with my own hands
As the water runs the length of her body
Which was my home.
Now we are each other’s homes.