Hanging On
by karla k. morton


When the Alzheimers set in
she clung to her coat hangers.

Not the big plastic ones, or the padded girly ones,
but those old, bendable wire ones she had used
every day of her life,
in every load of laundry, in every closet,
on every campout.

She would hug them to her breast
with both arms, terrified to let go.

At night, she would hide the extras
under the mattress,
or in the drawers
so no one would steal them.

And in the mornings,
she would put on as many clothes
as she could, layer after layer,
so she could keep the empty hangers in her hands.

The curve of the hook,
the twist in the neck,
the thin triangular labyrinth,
held her busy fingers and idle memory
when our faces, our names could not.

It was the one thing she could remember about her life.
The one thing she could hang on to
that still held purpose,
that could somehow lead her back
to clarity...
if she could
tight enough.


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