Loretta is not hopeful
though she wears her 95 years well
shuffling close to listen to me
play a pitchy grand piano

while the other residents finish dinner
hotly anticipating bingo
Loretta, my audience of one,
makes her quiet declaration:

I don’t care if I live or die. 

how do you respond
when language leaves you,
fleeing to the shadows on the ceiling?

she reclines into the sofa
another day of disappointments
and I have decided–

Grieg’s Arietta will speak for me.
I will coax this old piano
to deliver an urgent message:

 Loretta, you are loved.