VISITOR’S DAY AT THE GROUP HOME
Robert, twenty-one yesterday,
walks down stairs carefully.
Both hands clench rails. Head
down, he watches each foot land.
Reaching bottom, he claps twice,
sees her and smiles. He mumbles
and she knows he’s saying mommy.
She hugs him close. Drool slides
down the back of her neck. “Mommy
missed Robert so much.” He digs
into the shopping bag of gifts,
finds a Walkman. She clamps
the headphones on him. He bobs
like a spastic puppet to the Supremes
Greatest Hits. She opens a pint
of rice pudding, starts to spoon it
into his mouth. I pass her a handful
of napkins. Later, she lays his head
in her lap, sings Happy Birthday
and lights matchsticks to wish on.
I place a coloring book, his special
extra thick crayons on the table.
He scribbles interlocking spirals
while his eyes track her movements.
A car horn sounds and she steps
to the window, motions ‘just
a moment’ with her hand.
She bends, kisses Robert’s
forehead. “See you next week
sweetheart.” We nod goodbye
as she pushes open the door.
Robert throws a blue crayon
across the room, crumples
the scribbled page. He stands,
climbs up the stairs and fits
into his bed, his clothes still on.
This poem first appeared in Wordgathering
About Tony Gloeggler: I am a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. My work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, The Examined Life Journal, Raleigh Review, New Ohio Review, Stirring and The NY Times. My full length books include One Wish Left(Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) which focused on my job and the autistic son of a former girlfriend. My next book, What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.
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Image Credit: “Astrale Komposition XI” by Wilhelm Morgner (1911) Public Domain