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Literary Prestidigitations on Display

Burt Kimmelman featured on NPR's Writers Almanac!


Old Age Home by Burt Kimmelman

The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keillor


Old Age Home

by Burt Kimmelman

The ride from Manhattan — slipping her
into the passenger seat, swinging
in her legs, shutting the door — to the
suburbs of New Jersey, its trees and
freshly-painted houses, was as neat
as her empty apartment. We placed
some photos on her table, hung up
a few paintings on the walls, arranged
some of her sculptures here and there, plugged
in lamps and the television set.

We made our way along the hallway
to a room full of sun, where people
were gathered to talk a little, though
she had nothing to say. There was a
stereo playing music, and once
in a while someone sang the lyrics,
which had returned from some dim region —
a man seated in an easy chair
had wanted, years ago, "a girl just
like the girl who married dear old Dad."

We went to dinner. Someone poured her
a glass of juice. She ate, spilling food,
with a sudden hunger. Afterward
we sat on some couches. Someone asked
her to dance. The music played. She danced
with slight, tentative steps, a tulip
too heavy for its stem. When we had
to go we kissed goodnight, and left her
to lie down in her soft bed, her head
on her pillow, to slip into sleep.

"Old Age Home" by Burt Kimmelman, from Gradually the World: New and Selected Poems. © Blaze Vox Books, 2013. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)