The puzzle room

by Jacquie Shanahan

The waterfall is complex: white foam spilling
over black rock, two centimetres wide. Marion
slams each piece into its rural setting
and rebuilds the cottage with no roof.
I try to distract her with a map of the world,
tracing routes and jig-sawn borders. She sings

Angola, Namibia and South Sudan,
her fingers landing on Paris – the last city
she mourns like a friend, when Notre Dame
was an open door. She came back
to her unfamiliar house and fell,
a quick quick slide into hospital

then care home. She’s the youngest here,
her Citroën displaced by a wheelchair.
We play Scrabble next. They were just sleeping,
these pieces, these words, she says,
the lost places in her head weighing up
each fragmented tile in our joint scaffold

until she blocks my worthless vowels with her triple
jacquard, spelling out to the room
she was a maths teacher, once.