After dinner my mother’s kitchen
turns basement cabaret.
She sings:
-They call me naughty Lola/
The wisest gal on earth
as the dishwater soothes
the aches in her trigger fingers.

She’s been washing plates and platters
by hand since I was a kid.
The apartment came with a dishwasher
though I’m pretty sure
she’s never cracked the door.
“For one person I have to learn a new machine?”

As a child I understood her singing
to mean she was happy.
Momentarily happy, but still.

 A spot of glaucoma has started in her right eye.
“I didn’t expect it would find me,” she says,
“But who am I to think it wouldn’t.
They gave me drops, so it won’t progress fast.
I’ll probably die before I go blind anyway.”

-Whatever Lola wants/
ba bap bap ba bap bap bap/
Lola Gets

As a kid,
I’d wait for her to start singing.
She’d be two, maybe three songs in
then I’d spring it on her:

-I need a cake for tomorrow's bake sale
-I spilled Coke on grandmother’s table cloth,
-Can I sleep over at Mamie’s house,
(a request hardly ever granted
my mother believes in sleeping in one’s own bed!)

A few times I would be heading in for the ask
and it was like the fucking gravy bowl
saw me coming,
slip-smashing into a desert glass.

The singing got
replaced by a deep breath of frustration
and the realization that her feet were tired,
her ankles were swollen,
and why was she doing all this work
for an ungrateful brood?

I don’t interrupt her singing any more.
Whatever I have to ask can wait
a few moments longer.