Twice Donald did something with his mouth
I hadn't seen before: oldbaby grin.
His eyes locked on mine as the joke lawyer
ran down ifs if nots we hope nots
billable. Which Dickens he was I don't
know––Heep or Tulkinghorn or nothing
more vile than flat eyes and a tight tie.
Donald was mute, his mouth making the strange
smile as he walked his stick down a steep street.
Gin on an empty stomach and he was out,
mechanically shoveling in haddock. Three times
I asked Are you okay, can you hear me?
and his hand poked fries into his mouth,
speechless black hole I wish were fiction.



(Copyright © 2015 by Joan Larkin. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any medium, print or electronic, without the author’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews. First published in The New England Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2015: New England Review, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753,