The Potomac - Poetry and Politics
December 2006 - THE POTOMAC



How Things Should Be
   Rebecca Kraft

There should be a place where old people can go and live together. A place where there's someone to drive them around in a bus. A place where someone will push them in their wheelchairs. A place where someone will feed them soft foods like oatmeal, ice cream, mashed potatoes, squash, bananas, canned pears, pudding, meringue, cream of wheat, Jell-O, applesauce, strained carrots, and mayonnaise sandwiches.A place where it doesn't really matter if they go to the bathroom in their pants. A place where someone can hold them up in the tub, dig the soap out of their wrinkles, wash whatever hair they have left. A place where someone can call out bingo numbers for them. A place where someone will play the same song on the piano over and over and over again.

There should be a place where old people can go and live together. A place where they can die. A place where they can be pumped full of preservatives. A place where they can be put on display. A place where flowers and cards can be sent to and set up around their coffins. A place where a book can be signed in memory of them. A place where their family and friends can meet and mourn together. A place where a minister can talk about where they have gone. A place where crackers, cheese, and other small snacks can be eaten after all is said and done.

There should be a place where old people can go and live together. A place where they can die. A place where there are very big hooks. A place where there are assembly line workers dressed all in white. A place where things are minced and packed into cylinders. A place where sausage is made.


The Eating
   Rebecca Kraft

The day was long and mild. The hour was late and old. The girl was face down on the carpet. The stomach was too full. The girl knew.

The girl was face down on the carpet. The dinner was packed against the stomach. The stomach was pressing on the shag. The eyes were closed. The head was on a cheek. The hands were straight and at her sides. The palms were facing up. The thighs were together. The toes were pointed straight. The mother had told the girl that this would happen. The girl knew she had eaten too much of something. The girl knew. The mother had told her. The mother had said she would turn into something. The mother had said that if she ate too much of something, she would turn into it. The girl knew. The girl turned her head to rest on the other cheek. The new skin caught on the nylon fiber. The new skin, the growing skin, was coarse. The new skin was crisp. The new skin was golden crags. The new skin was seasoned and delicious. The new skin caught on the nylon fiber. The girl pulled her head up. The skin of her face tugged at the shag. The noise was small and snapping and delicate. The noise was as weak velcro coming undone. The feeling was almost nice. The face separated from the shag. The head turned. The girl worked the crags into the carpet. The face was tender and easy against the ground. The girl was getting soft under her golden crust. The girl could feel her bones thawing into the rest of her. The hips were gone. The kneecaps were gone. The hard parts of her were gone. The girl rolled her arm slightly against the shag. The skin was the same. The skin was crags, coarse and golden and delicious. The arm snagged in the same way as the face. The girl was beginning to warm. The moisture was gathering. The girl was soggy at the waistline. The girl moaned, delighted. The girl hurt, but the changing and growing was so good. The arms and the legs broke into nuggets. The skin grew quickly over them. The girl saw this happening and she was fine. The torso, too, split into pellets of meat. The girl had nothing to say. The girl was not upset. The girl knew.

The mother brought a large bowl of sauce. The family followed her into the room. The sister sat on the floor in front of the girl. The father sat in his leather chair. The mother distributed the Fiestaware. The sister chose her nuggets carefully. The mother and the father were not so picky. The sister arranged her nuggets on her plate into a smiling face. The mother and the father were not so childish. The mother offered a pile of them to the father. The mother filled her own plate and asked if someone would pass the sauce.

  
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