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by Roger Ballen.

The nurse is under pressure.

The old woman has to eat.
The old woman has to take her pills.

The old woman spits out her food.
The old woman spits out her pills.

The nurse takes a big spoon full of mash.
The nurse tries stuffing the mash into the old woman.

The mash falls on the old woman’s clothing.
The nurse is bitching loudly at the old woman.
The old woman silently says: please, please.

The nurse goes away.

Days later:

This nurse tells the old woman to take her medicine.
The old woman says no.

This nurse says: ok, whatever.

The old woman is asking: What are the pills for?
This nurse says: They are protecting your stomach.

This nurse says: Please don’t spit out your pills.
The old woman says: I don’t spit out my pills.

The old woman is right.

She always takes the pills, one after one,
out of her mouth.
Then she puts them neatly
and precisely on the edge of her plate,
until the nursing staff quits,
to force the pills on her.

Instead of knocking them down her mouth from a plastic cup,
this nurse puts the pills in the open hand of the old woman.

Now the old woman is taking her medicine.