The dull-steel of the hospital bed
clashes with the lush, gold décor
of my grandmother’s living room.
She can’t see it, can’t see anything
anymore, though this doesn’t keep her
from caring about appearances.
Paint my nails, she demands
of her sister: OPI Dutch Tulips,
a loud signature shade.
Fix my wig, she demands
of me: volume. I fluff and hear,
“The higher the hair . . .”
An eater all her life, a cook,
never an exerciser. But now, she is thin—
not in the way that cigarettes
make a woman thin in the short-term,
but in the way that cigarettes
make a woman thin in the long-term.
Ellen Orr is a writer and teacher based in Texarkana, a city which straddles the border of Texas and Arkansas.