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About More Voices

Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.

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Sara Brodsky

I sit with three demented women in their nineties.
Three after-dinner conversations fly,
banging into each other,
ricocheting,
drifting off course.
Aunt Sylvia insists she must call her mother.
Edith announces she works for her father.
Mimi declares she has two daughters.
I grab onto this shooting star.
"Where do your daughters live?" I ask. 
Mimi closes her eyes, and I watch 
as the star's tail
evaporates.

Edith says she starts work early the next morning.
My aunt frets, "We're the only people left."
Mimi declares she has two daughters. 
I try. I ask, "What are their names?"
She shuts her eyes and loses the light.

"You see that woman?" my aunt asks. 
All eyes follow her pointing finger.
A woman in a calf-length bathrobe shuffles past.
"She's always going to the bathroom. What does she do in there?" 
"Maybe she loves sitting in there," I say.
Aunt Sylvia guffaws. 
Edith chuckles.
Mimi smiles.
Grounded.


About the poet: 

Sara Brodsky is a writer and cabaret artist near Boston, MA. Her first career was in healthcare communications, but she left that path to teach ballroom dancing. Four years ago, about the same time that she and her husband helped her Aunt Sylvia move to a nursing home outside of Philadelphia, Sara retired from her dance business to concentrate on creative nonfiction writing and singing, combining them into one-woman cabaret shows called Stories in Song.

About the poem: 

"For fifty years, I knew my father's youngest sister, Sylvia, only as an incessant talker who lived with my grandmother in Philadelphia and visited us every few years. After our parents' deaths, my brother and I began to visit my aunt. Two years later, Aunt Sylvia began suffering from dementia. One day she asked me to "come and get my papers in order." I became her executor, power of attorney, health proxy, advocate and friend until her death in December 2010 at the age of ninety-four. This poem was inspired by a real moment in conversation with my aunt; a moment I wanted to hold onto because I didn't know when, or if, I would witness another."

Poetry editors:

Judy Schaefer and Johanna Shapiro