My mother has a brief flirtation
with Mr. Otto, a rare male in Frail Care.
He has the look of a Slavic conductor
—sweeping, side-parted silver locks
offset his visible nappy line.
“How odd,” Ma says of Mr. Otto,
“to meet the love of one’s life in a kitchen”
and to him, within hearing of the nurses:
“Your place or mine?”
But then, just as quickly, she forgets him
and Mr. Otto wanders the passageways again,
asking if anyone has seen his wife;
it’s not like Mrs. Otto to be home so late.
Finuala Dowling‘s poetry collections include I Flying, winner of the Ingrid Jonker Prize; Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe, joint winner of the Sanlam Prize and Notes from the Dementia Ward, winner of the Olive Schreiner Prize.