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Beyond Forgetting:

Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer's Disease, Hughes Holly J, Ed., Kent State University P  ress, 2009
Each contributor was asked to write a context for the piece that had been accepted.  Here’s what I wrote about my prose poem:   

My father kept my mother home with him for as long as he could.  Two years after her diagnosis, it was no longer possible, and we found a nursing home close to where they lived.  This was the first Christmas she was there, and when we went to visit her everyone was gathered for the entertainment. 
 

The Day Room

I go to see my mother in the nursing home.  It’s Christmas time, so naturally they have an Italian tenor singing Ave Maria and a little girl from my old grade school singing Silent Night.  I wheel my mother up close to my folding chair, and I say You have such a beautiful voice.  She no longer remembers my name or who I am, but she can sing all the words to O Come All Ye Faithful.  She lifts her twisted hand and shields her eyes the way she used to after she took communion.  A little while later, she turns to me and says Bill is coming to take me shopping.  Then, in twirl the middle-aged ladies in tap shoes and red-and-white-checked aprons, clicking their feet to the beat of a Hungarian folk song.  When they twirl, the fat jiggles beneath their pink satin cheeks.  The room is festooned with gold and silver garland, and all the employees are smiling. 

I want to find the Chinese woman who isn’t allowed in the day room.  I know she’s up on the second floor, strapped into a high-backed chair that converts into a bed.  She is banging the metal table with her fist and screaming. 

 

Thy Mother’s Glass

Thy Mother's Glass: Poems for Mothers and Daughters , Scharper, Diane, Ed, Wordhouse, 2000

Going Home

My mother doesn’t know
where her home is, thinks
this home is temporary,
thinks she will get
back to her own home soon.
She needs to leave,
needs to get back home,
needs my father to drive her there.

Every night, when he sits
trying to watch the ball game
on his own TV (the one he’s had
ever since they switched to color)
in the den of the home
he’s lived in for thirty years,
she starts in on him:
When are we leaving? It’s time to go home.

If I’m there, she’ll tell me
she simply can’t impose any longer,
she needs to go home. 
If I’m not there, she’ll get my father
to dial the number she can’t remember
so she can complain to me
that he won’t take her home.

You’re tired I say, stay where you are.

Home is waiting, mother.
Before long, it will rise up to greet you.
It’s beyond this agitation.
It’s not any place we can take you,
and sure as we pray or wish upon a star,
you will get there.

 

christine