How Do They Find Me?

By Donna Steiner

March 16, 2020

How Do They Find Me?

My mother’s greatest pleasure since her stroke is to sit in the courtyard of the rehab center. It’s not a beautiful space, just a square of concrete surrounded by high walls. If she could lean her head back, she could see the sky. But she is content with the fresh air, with a respite, of sorts, from doctors and nurses and therapists. If she is outside for a while they will come to her. “We need to check your sugar,” they say, and she lifts her good arm, reluctantly. “How do they find me?” she asks, as though we are fugitives, as though we are not mere yards away from her room. When they prick her finger for blood she jumps. For almost a month she did not jump. Perhaps this is a good sign, although it’s dangerous to interpret anything as good or bad. It’s just a fact.

“I thought we weren’t going to talk about that anymore,” she says in response to the subject of her medication. She has refused to take blood pressure and other pills for over a week. I say, gently, that if she dies, Melissa – her first grandchild, who is sitting with us – will no longer have a grandmother. She looks at Melissa and says, “That’s sad.” She says it with deep sympathy, as though having heard that some other woman – not she herself – would be causing Melissa’s bereavement. “That’s sad,” she says, as though the matter is wholly out of her hands.


Donna Steiner’s writing has been published in literary journals including The Sun, Radar Poetry, Brevity, and Stone Canoe. She teaches at the State University of New York. A chapbook, Lost and Found in Ocean County, New Jersey, is forthcoming from Tolsun Books. Another chapbook, Elements, was released by Sweet Publications.

Photo courtesy of Caitlin Oriel from Unsplash

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