Anna is a nurse who lives in L.A. She has lived in Bogota, London, Poughkeepsie, Santiago de Chile, New York City and Oberlin, Ohio. Her favorite food is corn on the cob, picked in early August in Lorain County, Ohio and spread with butter.
The table is set with shaky hands. There are the scrambled eggs, the cups of hot chocolate with the melted cheese blobs already resting on the bottom, the sweet rolls, the smells-like-feet papaya, the banana, the instant coffee with the too much sugar. This is a fight! papa cries, clattering the silverware. Never ever go to sleep angry, mama says, ever. What a terrible relief! brother says, may god, precious little god, be with you in every moment. And sister just smiles, pulling tight her pearl necklace of purple stitches, smiles until little red beads form between the purple pearls.
You came to me croaking the breaths of the death rattle, so I gave you a bath. A bath of microwaved wet wipes, as if after a chicken-wing dinner. Ninety-two years of baths and I gave you your last. Tin-tub ice-creek water baths; porcelain baths pressed against your lover’s back; bucket baths in the South Pacific, your rifle leaning against the outhouse door; crying-under-the-running-water-so-your-children-can't-hear-you baths. Every nothing bath was a check mark on your way to me, to your last chicken-wipe bath before I placed you, clean and tidy, in a white nylon bag and sent you on your way.
Little Dianita with a bump on her head and wild grin, she ran up and down the hallway with her IV flapping, shouting “butterfly” and “mariposa.” With cross-eyed concentration she strung painted blocks along a wire track and fit each foam puzzle piece into its snug slot. The janitor brought a chubby kangaroo and the nurse blew a floury latex glove into a turkey balloon, all for Dianita, so many games! The doctor placed a baby doll in the crib and asked, did he touch you here or here? And, so many games, Dianita laughed and said, yes, yes, yes.