My mother does as the others do
and sits searching the nursing-home floor
for what she’s lost. I comb her hair,
the teeth moving through strands
white as my father’s shirt for church,
the one she’d iron as we waited upstairs
for baths, her sudsy hands, and
her Irish singing. When I speak now
she stares at me
and taps her wedding ring to silent music
against her wheelchair.

Today the back door’s open,
and this dog with a broken leash
wanders in barking, bewildered.
My mother looks as if she just woke up
and calls Ginger, our collie’s name
from thirty years ago and the frantic dog
stumbles over and lies beside her chair.
My mother pushes her veined hands into his fur,
whispering Ginger, Ginger, her wrist ID tinkling
his tags as she rubs his curly head.
I lean over and, in the soft darkness of his coat,
my hands meet hers and she wraps
her fingers around mine. I place my face
into the shampoo fragrance of her thinning hair,
lost enough to love any name she could call me.