House Call

By Krista Halverson

My parents covered the stairs
with carpet, plush green
for Grandpa, who takes them in the morning
before his cocoa. Grandpa takes each stair
with respect, shifting languidly
as it to stroke
the backbone of our home.

He invited a woman over
yesterday, who he thought might be 
his wife. She was selling cosmetics and doing
quite well with my grandfather
until he forgot and hung up
She came anyway

and embarrassed us all, though only my father
showed it, bending her business card
until he was holding two halves: Donna Makeup
and Lind Specialist. I shook her hand
like I was palming a pancake,
and she gathered her things 
to leave. Her lips looked hards. The rest
of her face pulled in tight wrinkles

like the skin around a scab. She could
have been his wife. I believed,
standing in her receding air, what I say
sometimes, that the old
take care of themselves. Back in the house
I watch Grandpa
starting down the stairs.