THE CODEYou need the code to leave Montreal Five:Alzheimer's Floor at Providence Manor,where the clocks and cracked watches have all stopped;the moon ticks, charts, and predicts behaviour.The waltzing nurses that stay are angels.One today carefully clipped Jack's shirtfrom his calf where it had split: a burst tourniquet.He was proudly preparing for the Prom.That's Jack Mercer, who cannot ignitea sentence but will recite Robert Service's,Cremation of Sam McGee, fluently—memory wicking through gasoline eyes.And the name-forgotten children visitthis floor less and less, but who can blame them.This is hell: witnessing the slow reversal;spoon-feeding a drooling Mother pablum;watching a Father taper to a spill.Crowding them as if it were their first spinon a bicycle; waiting for that fallto render them immobile, bed-ridden,heaped in a pile, and once in a while rolled-over on one side, propped-up like a doll.(Poor Muriel Gray lay too long on her hipresulting in a an ulcerating hole).It's a grim picture being finger-paintedon those walls. And the hallways smell like shit.You need the code to enter Montreal Five.If only God could remember it.
From Better Locks and Daylight (Cactus Press, 2011) by Greg Bell.
(Photo by Phillip Toledano.)