I scan the sea of white heads
until I locate my mother’s.
Her wheelchair is moored
alongside an aquarium.

I reach for her cold, bony hand,
notice the roadmap of
prominent blue veins,
the dark splotches–her liver spots.

Some days it’s as if
our veins were mingled,
and love pulses through
our linked fingers.

But today she is distant,
silent within her chrysalis.
I speak to her shell
say all I can think of to say

then turn to watch
jeweled tropical fish
tracing arabesques
within their trammeled world.

While in the periphery
patients in wheelchairs propel
themselves in patterned loops
around the nursing station. 

The Art of Patricia Whiting