The cockroach droppings
on the bare plywood floors—


Like the color of her eyes,
like the color of despair.

I see wounds,
and hastily applied dressings.

I hear the wind,
forcing its way into the doublewide.

I smell bitterness,
decay, and the antithesis of anything clean.

I taste nothing,
the smell is so overpowering.

I touch the computer,
not knowing what to write.

Author’s Note:
Roughly one-in-ten older Americans experiences maltreatment, most commonly self-neglect. The professionals of Adult Protective Services support them and their families, to promote the best possible outcome in the worst possible circumstances. This poem is to honor these patients and the angels who serve them.