The Dulings

In a line of two, both in wheelchairs,
the Dulings, new arrivals to the Home,
are delivered to the table for breakfast.
Where have they come from? Rosie seems
to know but in her mouth words stop.
She says, her voice up, then down. ‘Oh well.’
She turns to look at Dan. ‘Where DID we live?’
He says, ‘We didn’t always live in Framingham.
Remember Cresskill?’ He smiles, ‘Sweetie, Rosie.’
This time her voice reverses, down, then up.
She says, ‘Uh huh?’ And she grins – lopsided.
What about their house? Did they keep it?
He says, ‘We sold the house.’ She says, ‘I thought
it was a rental.’ Then he adopts her words
as if she’s the one who knows what’s true
and he’s the one who’s more confused.
He corrects himself, ‘It was a rental.’
When he wants to go, he taps her wrist.
‘Ready? Sweetie Rosie?’ He tells the table,
‘Rosie and I are off. We’ve had our eggs.
And our bacon,’ (although there was no bacon)
‘and our toast, and everything is just fine.
We’re going home to the second floor south.’

When Matt, their son, joins them at the table,
well-mannered, they sit longer. Residents like Preston
Abe Butterworth, and Paul Politico have questions
about the world outside and how the younger
generation thinks. And when the Dulings
do excuse themselves, although Rosie
still occupies her wheelchair, with Matt’s help,
Dan abandons his to stand and walk
and help push her. One hand on his father’s
of Rosie’s chair Dan can push and walk.
Matt grabs the empty wheel chair to pull it
facing backwards. Rosie’s ready to set off.
But Dan as if yet Dean of Winston College,
straightens up, smiles broadly, and announces,
‘Dear Friends. You are all lovely people.
I merely want to remind you
that despite her difficulties, my Rosie is

a very good woman.’