126. Blanket

Cotton, knit hard, woven tight

and white, some with thin stripes, dark lines

not wide bands of a sailing sky.

Stacked as giant dishtowels near the sink

Here necessities are white, as are waiting sheets

and in dim over-bed light, in a heap near a man’s feet,

it is hard to tell sheets from blankets.

At home, a closet full of colors and flowers and stripes,

downy comforters, bolsters, throw pillows

and shams.

In the hospital

In the hospice, blankets are layered and covered, required and

not required, bleached. They must absorb, and stuff into rolling carts

easy to wash and steam and whiten, a thousand times over

for the waiting ill, hopeful, the terrified and accepting

A hospital blanket is no sham.

An honest healer, the diffusing filter,

a shroud.

If you find yourself curled in a hard vinyl chair one night,

all night, with drowsing cheek to icy fifth-floor window,

you might watch snow fall over a parking lot in the dark

And if the tall steel lamp between spots 62A and 62B

throws light on your father, adrift in his blankets

and every twenty minutes he moans and with large, hairy arms,

arms that hoisted you to see a hippopotamus rise

from murky zoo waters, just in time to see open jaws and

a pink hippo tongue, laughing,

he may now with the same arms fight blankets, rip them from his body.

And you may spring from the cold window seat

and in haste to throw off your own blanket

you will hit the gray floor, in front of his bed

bound in a white cotton trap, head sideways

seeing under bed bars, the IV base, the cords and you might think,

everything is on wheels.

You will yank yourself up, pat his arm, cover him, breathe,

and the nurses will come

to turn dials, and deliver him once again to calm,

to give you two folded blankets.

His last warm hours send you back to the frozen glass

grateful, now, for whatever large white dish towels can give

To blink at parking lights, to hear the snow plow, and wait.

— Marilyn Naron

A Chicago native, Marilyn Pollack Naron studied journalism at the University of Kansas, and has enjoyed living in Lawrence for 15 years.  A writer, mother and classically trained chef, she traded professional baking to write from her own kitchen, now sharing stories, recipes and entertaining ideas on her popular blog Simmer Till Done. She has contributed to The Sister Project, PaulaDeen.com, Flashlight Worthy Books, and is noted by Babble.com as one of the country’s “50 Best Mom Food Bloggers.”


One thought on “126. Blanket

  1. This is a beautiful poem. I don’t feel I have the proper descriptive terms to give it justice. Marilyn Naron is a gifted writer.

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