Mother, may I was a childhood game involving

a few steps forward, if caught, back to the beginning.

We played for hours, alternating with freeze tag,

polite, simple games on a grassy front yard.

The last few years, months, weeks, days

have been no game as I mentally trace a map

along her arm, bruised and thin, freckled

in a hospital gown.

The problem is her heart again and again,

one doctor saying recently, you've got a nice murmur.

My mother, at ninety, blushing, flirts back

saying she had a boyfriend once with eyes like his.

He compliments her nail polished fingers

holding both of her hands in his, and she gives

me the credit for the bronze glitter

then he escapes her magic and becomes

all business and medical details.

She charms everyone, even with her unwashed

white head of hair, wearing nothing but

an ugly pale green hospital gown.

This woman who lost so much in life continues

to be positive about everything.

From the colors of the ER curtains to

every nurse or orderly, she so frail, is

a beholder of hope and kindness to all.

Before I leave, I trace the wrinkles of

her lovely face, a beautiful aged map.

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