Categories
Poetry

Uber Dream

by Julian Meltzer

A poem from the Fall 2017 issue.

by Julian Meltzer | Poetry | Fall 2017

Calligraphy by Ramzy Lakos

I have this dream,
mom, where I’m
your Uber driver,
after your legs are
too weak for the subway,
I don’t know you,
of course, but
you are beautiful,
in the way middle-
aged, fashion-conscious
women can be, as
you walk deliberately
from the doorstep of
your apartment I barely
notice the way you
favor your right leg, not
knowing how long it’s taken
you to walk unaided.
I call, Elizabeth?
out the window, you nod,
smiling as you climb
into the backseat.

We make small talk; I’m
surprised—you’re every inch
Upper East Side in your black
woolen shawl and your
Marc Jacobs bag but
friendlier, you thank me
for the Poland Springs
bottle I’ve left in the backseat
but decline my offer of
a mint. We chat all the way
to your acupuncture
appointment and, because
you’ve won me over,
I idle outside, a half-hour maybe.
You don’t seem surprised that I’ve
waited when you return, but smaller
somehow, there’s the limp again, I’m
certain, and an extra wrinkle or
two, have I imagined them? I drive
you to the apothecary, your therapist, a
Reiki practitioner—you shrinking
all the while, aging, your eyes sinking,
your walk to and from
each building becoming
more obviously laborious. You ask
about my family and we share
a smile through the rearview mirror over
my beautiful baby niece, Anita. On the way out
from the Homeopath’s office
you stagger, barely catch yourself,
I rush to take your purse
and your arm, guide you to my car and
tuck you in. Now our chatter dances
around cancer, as I drive you to your
appointment with the famous
Doctor Nicholas and, by silent
agreement, accompany you inside.

When we emerge
I’m livid, as I tuck
you into the back-
seat, I want to beg
you to go to a real
oncologist, that man
is clearly a quack, peddling
false-hope, hippie Chemo
and sure it makes your
hair fall out, all over
the backseat, but with one
look at his tasteful waiting
room, the quiet music, his dead
smile and syrupy drawl, I wanted to
rush you over to Sloan Kettering
or even Bellevue, anywhere
else. But of course I’m just your
Uber driver, so I put on the CD of
Healing Tibetan Chanting the doctor
sold you and we head to
the Aromatherapist’s, the
Chiropractor’s, the Wig-
maker’s, the Kombucha
Shop, the Toxin Masseur,
the NAET Practitioner, the
Cancer Coach, the Hot
Stone Masseur, the Cupping
Masseur, the Foot Masseur,
the Dietitian, the Juice Bar, the
Kimchi Shop, the Spiritual
Healer, the Acupressurist, the
Astrologist, the Yogi—you aging
all the while, shriveling everywhere but
your midsection, which begins
ballooning, and there are no smiles
from either of us and where’s
your Marc Jacobs bag? Where’s
your wig now? Your black shawl is
gone, replaced by something paper-
thin, polka-dotted, split down
the back, and you’re wearing
just fuzzy gray socks
with those sticky, grip-
dots on the bottom
and you’re not sitting
but stretched out,
seatbeltless, across the
backseat like a
shitty cot, so I
drive slowly with
my hazards on until
we pull up to the Hospice
on Eastchester and Bassett
and I have to carry you,
your lightness terrifies me,
as we pass through
the automatic doors
you loll up to me
and whisper,
Where are we?