Nisht Vor Mir
Today my father summons his grandmother,
an old lady. Nisht vor mir, she would say.
Not for me, someone else must bend to pick up from the floor.
Nisht vor mir, I am old now, I am too old.
He is a small, obedient grandson, picking up the things she drops.
Now he is the young man in the photo in Mum’s wallet
nearly sixty years since they made their vows.
(Youth’s easy promise. Old age? Nisht vor uns.)
Now she counts out her pledge to him with his bedtime pills,
helps him dress, keeps his youth between the notes.
Nisht vor mir: Not for me (Yiddish)