Nikki Paley Cox: Recliners

Just the sight of them—overstuffed, adjustable, heated—
she doesn’t want any here
in the new townhome, where puppies follow her
from room to room, where she tries to rest on the couch.

They all remind her of Norman:
green microfiber in the basement replaced
the maroon upholstered; two in the bedroom
swapped for oversized occasionals

that eventually made their way to the living room;
two beige jumbos in Hallandale, and one chocolate leather
in Palm Desert. They were everywhere
across the country, plush, inviting. With a pharmacy lamp

and a stack of New Yorkers next to each,
they were really all the same.
We had an old burgundy moved into room 604.
He sat in it for a while, drugged,

dozing, until he couldn’t get out anymore.
So it just sat there, next to the bed,
which also adjusted and reclined, but which wasn’t the same.
Then, she sat in it. She sat in it until she began

lying in the bed with him, even when he yelled at her,
not knowing what he was saying,
even when he rolled out, fell on the floor,
trying to escape. So when the bed diminished

to a covered mattress on linoleum,
for his own safety, the nurses said,
when he pulled out the oxygen tubes and heaved
the mass of his compacted body off the side

till he was face-down on black mats
which nurses kindly rearranged, anticipating
another attempt, the recliners stood like witnesses,
so she doesn’t want them in the new place.

But the puppies are moving from room to room,
learning how to re-position, looking to her for how to sit.



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