Housekeeping on the Women’s Dementia Floor - Cassandra Baliga

Twenty TVs echo cacophonously,

each tuned to the same

station, half lagging

two seconds behind.

Smells of medicine and piss

coat the walls, air.

Vacant-eyed women sag

and melt into their busted

easy chairs. Others

pace the halls or stand

in their doorways, full

of waiting.

They are ready to tangle

me in sprawling webs

of stories, when I come by

with my mop.

They are ready to show pictures (this is my son, this

was my husband)

dog-eared, creased and thick

with fingerprints,

old red lipstick

imprinted on ghost faces.

None of us are sure

how we ended up here,

me, cleaning, them

living. In their rooms they sleep,

rotting softly with their fruit.

I pick up discarded

banana peels, apple

cores from underneath

their beds, we each

dream ourselves

somewhere else.

Cassandra Baliga is a graduate of Purdue University Fort Wayne with a B.A. in English. She’s had work previously appear in The Red Booth Review, Confluence, ANGLES, The Lucky Jefferson, and Cold Mountain Review. She is also a two-time winner of the DeKalb Snowbound Writer’s Poetry Contest.

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