Deeper Than Words
The outside world arrives
wearing my willing face.
Toothless, your smile widens
like a baby’s hungry for attention.
Almost ninety-eight years old,
your inner candle still glows.
A hospice volunteer, I lean closer,
talk into your listening left ear,
“Today is Sunday, Miss Loretta.”
My news drifts away like smoke.
You stare at me through dying coals.
Whatever I ask, you whisper, “Yes.”
I stroke your age-softened arms
while your hazed mind masters sleep.
Watching you, I dream generations
of women, black and strong, each one
a book of sustaining stories
about joy, pain, courage, survival.
Within your warm brown frame,
spirits from our common history linger.
Aides say you have dementia,
that you don’t know a word I say.
Our language goes deeper than words.
We speak to each other’s souls.
© Frances Shani Parker