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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Watching Lots

What is this place
Publix Cub Foods Safeway
Ralphs A and P
or any of a thousand stores
where the old sit
inside the cars of their wives
sons daughters
the caretakers of the challenged
in their later years
with Alzheimer's or just
significant white matter disease
that pulls the sitters away from
the rest of us
who pass by with our shopping carts
the ones who do not notice
that an old person is in a car
on a hot day

Now if it were a dog
we'd check to make certain
the windows were down
or a child where police
would be rushed
to break the window
or fish the lock open
to save the young one

But it's just an older person
we assume to be an adult
capable of all the adult decisions
we have for ourselves
as the heaps of Cheerios
flavored yogurt
household goods
sail by those empty eyes

Are we even in thought
when we park across
from another car
that maybe the tired one
is inside to buy the necessities
for the one inside the far stare
who wears the Depends
and spends most of the day
in front of a television
entertained by everything
the family cannot provide

For the minutes they are alone
on a cold or hot day
you are the watcher
who makes certain
nothing happens to the ones
who tossed a child on his knee
or carried the shopper to term
because now
the child has become the parent
the child who is the only one
in a large family who cares
or loves
and can't leave the wanderer
at home
to fall down the stairs
to forget the walker
to imagine they go off to work
or hear a party down the block
you provide the respite
as you in thoughtless hurry
park to buy a salad or a sandwich

So this is the watching lot
full of old people sitting in vehicles
not quite with us
and yet alive inside the years
that you see on their faces
their lonely faces
as they wait for the one
who gives them a bath
feeds them some chicken
who makes peas far too often
the one who wakes up in the middle
of the night to any sound
their parent makes
the tears of a dream
the shouts of a happy child
remembered in the dark
the tired son
the exhausted daughter
away from their father or mother
to get a bit of life
as they shop for a break
you now give them
for five ten or fifteen minutes
the only time they have away
or are a part of the world
outside the home where
mummy or daddy
provides an absolute rule
often in silence
the kings and queens of emptiness
as their last golden moments
tick away in a lift chair
or a ten year old Chevy
in the parking lot of a grocery store

Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry G. Wick

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