Generation Gap

[audio link]

You sit, legs outstretched,
on your living room floor
overseeing the kids and a Cootie game,
assembling garish toy vermin
piece by piece, turn by turn.

Your left big toe is swollen from surgery.
You plug a plastic leg into a thorax
and recount brittle bits of nail
extracted like shrapnel two days prior,
the stitched digit now a shell-less turtle.

Of all that ails you, it’s this that gets me:
Not even toes are exempt from aging. 
I shudder and wiggle my own polished piggies
blissfully intact in my shoes. 

Shame on me. How it must feel—
your body’s creation repulsed by its maker
and cowering in the fleeting refuge
of youth. Ah, but it’s relative:
Your Cootie opponents already find me
hopelessly ancient and appalling. 

Oh Mom, if only love was enough
to pull you back toward me in time,
I’d meet you halfway, walk with you a while,
instead of trailing two decades behind,
helpless and remote as you stumble
fatefully onward, disassembling
piece by piece, turn by turn.

—Bobbie Lovell, De Pere, WI