Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Foreign Land


This is a place
where names don’t fit.
All my nouns fall to the ground, in heaps
and the grey of night and day,
of sea and sky, converge.
We sit on plastic chairs
and wait,
in this room full of
impossibly old strangers.

I worry for my family.
I don’t know where they are
or how they are getting on.
The postcard I live on does not have room
for them, so I stay here
alone.

This is the time we eat.
The food is foreign to me;
grey mounds…moist and tasteless.
I smell only cleaning solution.
There are small weapons beside the plate,
for this place is riddled with small dangers.

There are no trees, no birds
in this place.
I think an evil witch has stolen them.
If only I could remember
the spell to bring them back.
I try to recite it, but all that comes from my mouth is:
dit dit dit dit dit

This is the time we go to bed.
There are bars on my bed.
They lock me into it at night
for my safety…
because this place is riddled with small dangers.
Imagine, being locked into a bed,
alone.
Once, I would have given anything
to be locked in bed with you.
But now I can’t find you.
I call and call your name,
all night from my lonely bed
but you never answer.
I think you have forgotten me.
Or maybe you were stolen by the witch, 
who took the trees and birds.

I worry for my family.
I try to summon you
with the magic spell:
dit dit dit dit dit
But this is a place
where names don’t fit.
All my nouns fall to the ground, in heaps.


Alzheimer's sucks.  Let's find a cure.  
This can  be found at IGRT  with many talented artists' responses to dementia, and at NWCU where folks are responding to foreign lands.  Check them out.


34 comments:

  1. I, uhm, did this, with Dad for many years. And he struggled mightily to hold on to a sense of self, & now so do it. Perhaps many things recur in life under different names.

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    1. Hang on Mary (hug). This comes from experiences with my mom.

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  2. Sad, heavy and a good write Mary.

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  3. Beautifully done, Mary. I thought of my father as I read it: strangers, small weapons, "the postcard I live on" — amazing work, Mary, seeing it from your mother's perspective.
    K

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  4. Thank you very much Kay. My mom was probably the kindest people I've ever known and I was very close to her. I'm so sorry to hear you understand what I'm talking about.

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  5. You really did a great job putting us into the head of someone with AD. So sad, touching. Thanks so much for taking part, Mary!

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    1. Thanks Laurie. This was an important prompt.

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  6. What must still reside in the hearts and souls of these impossibly precious people. Your poem is incredibly lovely.

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    1. Thank you Helen. I know we don't always treat our elderly with the respect and love they deserve, but I have also come across situations where a person with dementia is visited regularly, but can't remember it! So sad.

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  7. Yeah one of the worst diseases out there indeed, can suck a person dry of who they are.

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  8. Mary...there is such an innocence and whimsy here, all be it on the darker side.You have presented such a face to us, how could we not feel, even if only a bit, of that same sense of loss...for the one who suffers, and for the ones who have to watch...this resonates, this is felt.

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    1. Thank you so much Natasha. I'm glad it worked for you.

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  9. So beautifully rendered. I can feel her loneliness being locked in her bed at night, wondering where everybody went. So painful and should not happen to the old who have already suffered so much during their lives. Beautifully written, Mary. I, too, love the innocence of her voice. This prompt has produced some very heartfelt work. Wow.

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    1. Thanks Sherry, this one was a long time coming. This disease just sucks (and I hate that word...almost never use it, but in this case I feel it is warranted).

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  10. you are a fabulous writer...cheers!

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    1. Thank you very much Ashok! I appreciate your kind words.

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  11. Superbly done. It conveys the awfulness of the condition with dignity, sensitivity and, yes, beauty. They are the least its sufferers should expect and you have provided them in good measure. And, yes, let's pray for a cure.

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    1. Thank you Dave. I always appreciate your input.

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  12. ohh i have to read these in bits and spurts. this evoked a deep reaction when i read it, particularly these lines:

    "Once, I would have given anything
    to be locked in bed with you.
    But now I can’t find you."

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    1. I'm sorry if this brought back a painful association Marian, though I'm glad that it touched you. Thank you very much for reading.

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  13. sad topic mary! good poem though...

    Wander

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    1. Thanks Chris...sadly, some who wander really are lost.

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  14. I know Alzheimer's to well...I watched my mom retreat into a world where we couldn't follow...a terrible land of forgetting. You have written a wonderful piece that speaks of it so profoundly..."The postcard I live on does not have room for them, so I stay here alone." love this!

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    1. Thank you Susie. I'm sorry to hear you have experience with this too. Yet another of the sad things with dementia is that one's family can be very faithful and visit often, but the patient may not remember and still feel lonely.

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  15. Your poems so expressed the vague, void feeling~
    The postcard line said so much~ I love what you wrote and how well you expressed it...
    Bravo!

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    1. Thank you Ella! I've had this one stewing for a long time.

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  16. Glad to read this, Mary. You give a new and different perspective on the disease. I've written about it a few times, too. You might like this:
    http://www.kimnelsonwrites.com/2009/04/03/alzheimers-at-97/

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    1. Thank you Kim. I couldn't find your poem. Can you try again, or email it to me at marybach@sol.com?

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Here is an active link, Mary: http://www.kimnelsonwrites.com/2009/06/14/alzheimers-at-97/

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