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The Caregiver

by Caroline Johnson
51 poems,83 pages
Price $16.00
ISBN 978-09986010-3-8
Publisher: Holy Cow! Press
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The Caregiver is about the experiences of poet Caroline Johnson taking care of her parents for over twelve years. As their respective illnesses claimed more and more of what they once were, Johnson supported, nurtured and advocated for them in love. This unique collection of poems tenderly portrays the pathos of a daughter alongside her parents during the most difficult of times. Her poetry paints unforgettable pictures of those caregiving relationships. When Johnson gives readings from her book, audience members invariably come up to her, often with tears, saying how much her poems meant to them. This collection will touch your heart; more importantly, The Caregiver will change your heart.


“Heartbreaking and unforgettable, these poems conform the complex and difficult task of caregiving that requires control moderated with compassion. In unsparing language leavened with affection, Johnson speaks to those with aging parents as well as anyone facing illness or aging. An important book that takes on painful aspects with wisdom and a good heart.”
—Joan Colby, author of Carnival and Ribcage

“In these poignant and unflinching poems poet Caroline Johnson traces her father’s decline with Multiple System Atrophy and her mother’s descent into dementia with tenderness, affection, and respect. The Caregiver offers a moving account of the work of living with chronic illness for both her parents and herself, remembering who they were, acknowledging the grief and defeat the caregiver often encounters, showing us how we, too, could accompany our own loved ones with a raft of old movies and honesty, patience, and humanity.”
—Robin Chapman, author of Six True Things


In addition to The Caregiver, poet Caroline Johnson has written two poetry chapbooks, My Mother’s Artwork and Where the Street Ends. More than 70 of her poems are in print. Her awards include winning the 2012 Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Poetry Contest, nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and prizes in state and national competitions. A former English teacher, she works as an advisor for a Chicago area community college.


A Widower's Wish
by Caroline Johnson

If from her casket bed she could rise,
and leave behind her body bruised and sore,
after months wasting in a slow demise,
her thin limbs shaken to the skeletal core.

If she could rise above her arthritic pain,
transcend time’s cruel geometry unaware,
perhaps I could remember all over again,
and lift myself out of this wheelchair.

If she could rise, I say, if she could rise,
mix blood and spirit in the starry night.
Our twin souls would mingle like fireflies,
lifting skyward into the silver light.

I could greet my lover before death’s abyss,
use alchemy to transform an eternal kiss.


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