It all began with colors
Not distinguishing blue from gray
Green from red
Next came the numbers
Dripping off counters
Blending into black
I heard them leave
One by one
Water hitting windowpanes
Stretching into air

I begged the words not to follow
As they arranged like poetry
A nonsensical beauty
Pooling in puddles
Collecting near swollen ankles
And freckled skin
I fumbled
Trying to piece together
The fallen alphabet
With borrowed hands
And thorny knuckles
Claws I slap away

Until they disappear under a cool space
Smelling like memories
The kind I hovered over
Shaped into creases
Stacked into loving piles
Vague slices of dusty sunlight
Fabric brushed along my skin
I bead the letters
For the unseen

The scarf around my neck
Cinches time and consciousness
Eyes shut open
Watching the color of an indecisive sky
Familiar in its expectancy
A frail hopefulness
I set to work
Stringing imprisoned words into bracelets
As they snag on my bones
Fumbling in the wrong direction
Pushing through crowded lungs

Here is my reflection
A face caught in a hall of mirrors
Trapped in an inhale
The spark of our hope fading together
Fastening her lips to my cheek
Moistening our skin with her tears
Whispering words sewn with precision
So kind I feel my heart stir
But I have nothing to give her
Too many ways to escape
Like sand through fingers
In a fist with no strength

When the vibrations reach my throat
She is gone
And I am holding her name
Pinned in the air above my bosom
Chrome colored
With frayed edges

My Adeline

The stabbing pain of knowing far worse
Just before the flight of
The unfurling words


11 thoughts on “Dementia

  1. ramonawray

    Oh, goodness, you’re quite amazing! You should publish these wonderful, WONDERFUL poems (or maybe you had?) You have a rare gift, DD…

  2. Debbie

    This is heartbreaking in its beauty, DD! I can’t imagine watching the world go by and not being able to string words together (that must be the very worst part of dementia, you know!). It takes a very special and caring sort of person to tend to those so diagnosed, especially when it’s a relative. So many of your phrases here are hauntingly beautiful — well done, my friend!

      1. Debbie

        My heart goes out to you. I have a friend whose mom is suffering with it right now, and I can see how hard it is — on both of them. Must be awful not recognizing your own child, as well as knowing your mom doesn’t know you as anything other than “that nice lady who comes to see me.”

  3. FictionFan

    Beautiful, DD! Really captures the pain of when communication begins to become an unimagined difficulty – the loss of someone while they’re still alive. Very moving!

  4. Anita Lubesh

    That was amazing. The fluidity and integrity of your words contrasted sharply the subject matter. It is a difficult experience for all concerned. Lovely though.
    And thank you once for being generous and highlighting my writing once again, it is much appreciated.

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