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
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,
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.”