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The Engineer of Squares FREE TO VIEW

Scott Donald Peterson
Author and Funding Information

Correspondence to: Scott Donald Peterson, e-mail: sass49071@yahoo.com

Editor's Note: Scott Peterson recently retired as a teacher and administrator. He writes of this poem: “One of the saddest things was to watch my strong, competent, successful mother dissolve into someone entirely different with Alzheimer's disease. It was a great comfort to me that she still retained enough of her core personality to perform this ritual that gave her so much pleasure and satisfaction in her life.”

—Michael Zack, MD, FCCP, Section Editor

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).

Chest. 2008;134(4):887. doi:10.1378/chest.08-1366
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My mother had large hands with long fingers.
They were soft and smooth,
burnished to a pink shine
from the lotion she rubbed
into them each night.
She loved to fold things With those hands.
Open up any closet, pull out any drawer,
and there they were,
towels and sheets and dish cloths,
handkerchiefs, even underwear,
folded into tight squares
with perfect 90° angels and stacked
into columns with the precision of an engineer.
When she was old and
after she moved into hospice,
we would move her bed
close to the widows in the evenings.
She would sit in the twilight,
breathing hard, her hands floating
above her lap, moving in little circles,
looking for things to fold.




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