Wrap It Up!–by Jeff Worley

My mother would like to die now, please.
Her nursing home apartment is immaculate.
Friendly aides set hot meals in front of her
three times a day. Enough! So what!
She’s tired of their cheerier-than-thou
voices and those voices on television
trying to sell her on buying it, whatever
it is, however prettily wrapped.
TV light bathes her morning til night.
Then welcome sleep, an undress rehearsal
that never lasts long enough.
Awake again? The chattery girl asking
This top? These pants? And some slick
preacher “just stopping in,” wanting
her to donate her soul. My god.
It never ends. Which is all she wants.
And these framed photos grinning down
from the bookshelf, this innocent choir.
My mother knows what we’re thinking.
We want to keep her here. Children
she probably loved once, their own
disappointments just beyond the horizon . . .
Now, not knowing I can hear from the next room
she says, with conviction, What crap!


[First appeared in The Texas Review]

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published 10 collections of poetry, the most recent, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).


2 thoughts on “Wrap It Up!–by Jeff Worley

  1. This poem is powerful. it took me back to the days when my mother was deep into dementia. It was as if she had died long before she actually did because she wasn’t there anymore. By the way, Bruce Cutler also gave me invaluable help. I still have copies of poems with his handwriting on them. Without his encouragement, I mgiht have dropped out of the program.

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