Fear of Falling

Lucifer and his all-star angels fell
Into the black and sticky bogs of hell

The recreation room is large and clean
Dominated by a giant TV screen.
Around it residents nap in reclining chairs.
There is an upright piano, a table laid with sweets.
News and music drone. An aide in whites
Sits by the window reading a magazine.
A stage set for a play not yet begun.

Into the dining room downstairs, residents
Come with canes, walkers, in wheelchairs
Or hold the arm of a companion. Fear
Of falling permeates the atmosphere.
Like tears it mists the coral-colored wall,
Stains the tablecloths and dinnerware.

A resident eats there silently. Beside her
Two women seem engaged in conversation,
But their talk is a medley of disconnected phrases,
Words and word fragments like lost puzzle pieces.
Two canes rest on back of a woman’s chair.

Women in wheelchairs line the corridor
Facing the elevator. Staff and visitors
Come and go carrying charts and flowers.
These are visiting hours. What do they see
Who sit like statues in their wheelchairs staring?
Shadows, perhaps, and flashes, signifiers
Of different people in other times and places.

A cane taps hesitantly on the floor.
An aide takes the woman’s arm and guides her
To her room, gently but firmly lest she fall.

For falling is only the beginning of going—nowhere.