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.
Union City, TN