Retirement

My inlaws have lost their health insurance, and now they are losing their minds. She says, “I’m so sorry we’re such fuckups.” She has that fist in her gut feeling. I want to say back that if she buys us anything for Christmas, I’ll return it without even opening it.

I listen to her talk about the grow lights she’s just bought for the kitchen, so that the potted begonias will thrive this winter in the low New England light, but I want to shout over and over, Why are you buying stuff?! You are living on a social security check, you are living below the poverty line, I’m going to start sounding like Ronald Reagan galloping over the Hollywood hills, warning you not to buy lobsters with your food stamps. I’m going to call the cable company to cancel your Food Network crack.

Her stained shirts, according to him, are not even fit for Goodwill. His torn sneakers, according to her, make him look like a bum. He leans in close to me and says, “The real truth is, she’s convinced I don’t love her.”

I turn my palms up to the ceiling fan.

She shouts over him, “You don’t even hear what I’m saying.”

*

Josette Akresh-Gonzales lives in the Boston area with her husband and two boys, and she is a production editor at  NEJM Knowledge+. She has had poems published in The Charles River Journal, Clarion, Epicenter, Two Hawks Quarterly, and most recently, Black Heart Magazine. While she was a student at Boston University (1997–2001), she co-founded the BU Literary Society and the journal Clarion and was its editor for two years. Twitter: @Vivakresh.

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