You were up for your nursing home shift.
I was up to feed the baby.
We would meet in the bathroom, 4 A.M.
I’d sit on the edge of the tub to nurse
while you checked your teeth, your bangs, your white scrubs
in the mirror with its two dim bulbs.
What did we talk about?
I don’t remember, but it was peaceful,
three women, blood-related, two of them
grown, and a baby.
She seemed to like the sound of us,
voices low not to wake
her sleeping father,
saying things we never said
with the sun risen, the man up.
You’d head out to catch
the bus at the Main Street stop
in the cold and dark.
Drunks just tossed at closing time
would catcall from their speeding cars.
Your hundred-year-old patient
waited at the home to beg you,
hourly, for a hand job.
“Hurry up. Please. I’m dying.”
After, without you, I would still
nurse the baby on the edge of the tub.
The bathroom lights first began to flicker then,
off and on, a barely audible buzz
taking the place of our old confidences,
your joke maybe, you
who loved scary movies.
though only lies
Off and on, there
and in the next four houses, too.
Bathroom after bathroom,
man after man,
baby to girl to woman,
but the light always
Now you see me, now
Sherry Robbins, UNDERWORLD, 2020 Outriders Poetry Project