Activity Room

By John Bargowski

My mother wants nothing to do with the puzzle
two other residents,
whose wheelchairs have been rolled up
to a folding card table,
are trying to put together—
a west side shot of the New York skyline
broken up into a thousand pieces,
the stubborn morning smog
she could see from the apartment
she had to give up photo-shopped out,
the OT insisting Mom join in the fun,
taking my mother’s stroke-locked hand
and guiding it to
a corner piece that’s an easy fit,

mom’s head craning over
a missing section of the murky river
she swam in as a girl
before her fingers begin to shovel
through half-built walls, skyscraping towers,
pushing aside everything
that’s been pieced back together
to shove a jigsaw shape
into a hole she’s found
in the skyline.


John Bargowski received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry in 2009. His book Driving West on the Pulaski Skyway by John Ortenzio Bargowski, selected by Paul Mariani for the Bordighera Prize, was published in a bilingual English-Italian edition in 2012.

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