By Alan Weltzien

In the wide passageway at the assisted living

residents gather well before lunchtime,

drawn by tendrils of fried ham and baked

puddling that swirl past their nostrils,


a dampened clatter of pots and pans, of forks

and knives coming to rest aside white plates.

Wheechairs roll, others push their walkers

as noses and heads lift


in anticipation of high noon, each reaches

their assigned seat with assigned neighbors,

mostly women large or shrunk. Anything new?

Any new blouses or skirts or pants?


Likely not. Instead, familiar patterns and small bowls

of mounded compote, conversation nearly yesterday’s

or last week’s. Each salts or peppers

sparingly, makes some allowance for foibles.


After the day’s highpoint, reverse migration

and diaspora to rooms, to TV or crafts or

naps until the final gather. My mother-in-law,

I’m told, arrives last and lingers longest.


–Magnolia Place,

Union City, TN