There are many types of symbiotic relationships and theirs wasn’t on the chart that Siri provided. I read each of them aloud. Still, they didn’t believe me.
“We help each other in little ways,” Pappy said. “Finishing each other’s...”
“Arguments,” Mildred offered. “He’s my little remora.”
“I remember,” he said. “I’ve Got Personality, 1919!”
This was apropos of nothing. She could have been a shark. She moved in fast enough when Agnes, his last girlfriend at the home, hit her head on the chandelier after her motorized walker suffered a transmission malfunction. She was catapulted high into the air, and legend has it that Mildred already had taken her place before she came back down to earth.
Now they were the “it” couple of the Wilderstein wing, hanging out and making sure the others all saw their very public displays of affection. The rec hall was not for recreation. It was a brightly lighted space that assured each of the seniors how much of a wreck they’d become. Pappy had some good days, but today hadn’t been one of them. He thought I was there as a census taker.
“I am one-sixteenth Eskimo,” he told me. “That means if they have sixty words for snow, I know about four.”
Mildred proudly defended any statement he served up. If he was dishing out a crazy succotash of words, she was eager to share the recipe alongside him. From far enough away, they almost seemed like a cute couple.
“I knew his sister Ava,” Mildred said, even though I knew he’d been an only child.
“We learned to put makeup on together.”
As usual, I sat and listened as best I could manage, but my patience wasn’t what it once had been. I stood up abruptly.
“Thanks for coming by,” Pappy told me, tipping a cap that he wasn’t wearing. “Be sure to tell the government what they can do with their insane wars. I aim to burn my draft card.”
It wasn’t worth the effort of explaining that the armed forces had no interest in men over ninety, or that he had actually served in a long ago war. Instead I told him I loved him and that I would try to be back before the month was over.
“You government types are pretty nice after all,” he said, after awkwardly receiving my hug.
I left them at their table, serving each other small bites of pound cake between sips of weak coffee. In the end, it was turning into a long war after all.
champions the underdog, and strives to survive modern life’s absurdities.
A widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist,
Glauber has in print two poetry collections, Small Consolations (Aldrich
Press) and Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), and two chapbooks, Memory
Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press) and The Covalence of Equanimity
(SurVision Books), the latter of which was a winner of the 2019 James Tate
International Poetry Prize. Two new collections are forthcoming soon: Rocky
Landscape With Vagrants (Cyberwit.net) and A Careful Contrition
(Shanti Arts Publishing).
Two Poems in Cultural Weekly (16 May 2018):
“The Unearthing” and “Luggage”
A Capitol Idea, micro-fiction in KYSO Flash (Issue 12,
The Sum of Three Parts During a Humdinger, micro-fiction in
KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019)