Black Life by Dorothea Lasky

The Legend of Good John Henry

When my dad got Alzheimer’s all the plants died
In the nursing home there are no plants
There is nothing to live for
Dogs circle the pink painted building
The orderly staff waits with the bleach
Asking me where the diapers are, I do not know
I haven’t had a love in a very long time, a true love
One that makes you feel all jiggly inside
I haven’t felt all jiggly inside since I don’t know when
Still I will not go to work in a factory for machines
Art may want to be mechanized but I am not going to let it Goddamn it
Not gonna let it all be steel driver without my fist
Even the dead plants whisper to me to feed them
I feed them, the rabbits, and the dogs
I feed the babies bread toast, they are bald and wild
And strung out on life, the little igloos
Of their heads only cold when you think of all the possibilities of love like waiting
I am not what I once was, but who would want to be
Who would want to be the same throughout a life, read the same books
Drink the same tea, wear the same dress, go to the same movies
Oh how I would cry at the same man bent over the same actress in the same dark suit
Someone has died in that movie
O I have seen that one before

"The Legend of Good John Henry" from Black Life by Dorothea Lasky. Copyright 2010 © by Dorothea Lasky. Reprinted with permission of Wave Books.