My mother calls the place she’s in, “The House of Diapers”.
I bite. “Why?” I ask.
“Because,” she answers over the telephone, me in Europe, her in Vegas, “here it’s all about different bags going back and forth in different places. They feed me to make nice poo-poo. Then I make poo and they change me. Then more food, more poo. People telephone me, I tell them I live in a shit house. They’re changing shits all day long. That’s where I live.”
She tells me about the very quiet woman she shares her room with. “I keep the curtain shut between us all the time.”
I bite yet again. “Why?” I ask.
“She paints with her poo, and eats it.”
She tells me from the best place her retirement funds can afford in Las Vegas how she remembers so many things that happened to her in her long ago world. And in great detail.
“Really?” I say, biting less.
“I’m letting my mind wander yesterday, and I remember my life when I was young, but I’m living in today, and the images get all mixed up together. Someone comes in and asks me something, and I have to look at them, and remember my circumstances, come out of my past, and this takes a few moments to do. And then they think you are old and slow and stupid. All I am is in the past, surrounded by every little detail. I’m remembering when I was a child at my Uncle’s fruit stand in New York asking him if I can have an apple and there’s the smells and sounds of the streets, it’s sunny and my uncle is talking to people of the neighborhood, weighing produce, and I’m by his side looking around as I bite into my apple and the taste is so overwhelming and sweet and then someone comes into my room and asks if I’ve gone poo in my diaper this morning. It takes a while to come back from New York and to my poo.”
She tells me how she can’t get out of her bed as she used to. How her bed is near the toilet door, but it’s just too much of an effort. How she just sleeps and sleeps. She coughs, gargles with excess saliva. I listen to her burps over the international telephone line. She sings snatches of songs. She breathes in my ear, living on.
Me, I’m still in New York, watching her uncle weigh produce.