She has forgotten how to swallow, how to take in
something extraneous and make it her own. Simple
enough for a regular guzzler; not so easy when the trap-
door assistant has slipped out for a coke and
croissant and a mess of food is poised for the drop.
Nurses dread that moment; doctors make a note
of the commotion in a scrawl; the speech therapist hails
an impairment and adjusts the mix so that tea will slide
rather than flow. ‘Can’t I have a drink of water?’ she asks
all the first days, then tires of asking, recalling home now
as the one place she can please herself, where walls advance
a big hug when she’s lonely, the toaster pops just for her,
the kettle bleats and blubbers when it can take no more.

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