The old men are like snakes.

In the dementia wing

which is bright and clean and where

there is nothing else

to frighten you

with such irrational dread

but old men


whose eyes follow and whose tongues flick

where one might spit

and one might strike

where they slide about the room

hugging the line of the furniture

or the walls looking for safety

or for exit


Unpredictable they zigzag towards you

where you sit beside the chair of your sleeping mother

and you still yourself and hold your breath

and hope

to remain unnoticed


But if you brave yourself

to take their proffered hand as they pass

you find with a physical surprise that they are warm

and dry to touch

smooth and firm

that the contraction of their still strong muscles

around your arm is comforting

and they are simply curious

and interesting like snakes


About Mikaela

I am an artist and writer living in the Perth Hills
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