Tag Archives: dementia

She Hates Numbers

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Living On The Moon, a poem

illustration living on the moon

Living On The Moon, a poem

I remember all she had, stockpiled
in a child’s Easter basket.  Necklaces
of ivory, turquoise and amber beads —
hopelessly broken and tangled.  Cheap

metal pins, plastic bracelets, a dozen
stilled watches.  Dried-out jars
of skin cream, mangled greeting cards,
portraits of her sisters.  Often,

I allowed her to caress my face with
her trembling, soiled hands.  On the pillow,
my head next to hers, pretending
I was a small child, and she my beloved

mother.  Afterward, I scrubbed myself pink
with harsh soap.  In a moment captured
years ago, Brandy, her tiny poodle,
dances on his hind legs, his pink toenails

scrabbling against her tanned,
scrawny calves, a rhinestone collar
tight around his limber ashen neck.
She tempts him to please her with a bit

of bacon — herself very plump around
the middle, silver hair teased and
sprayed, a perfect bouffant.  You
would never guess then she was fated

to end up living on the surface of the moon,
by herself, without shame, without desire.
I must restring the beads, drape them over
a mirror, say a few words to her picture.

She will appear in my dreams nightly, dancing
with a small white dog, twirling her brittle
bones around and around until they catch fire.
She will sparkle like cut glass; gulping for air.


Filed under compassion, daughters, poetry

the piano player, a poem

illustration the piano player


(originally published in the New Laurel Review)

She is small and curved:
like a dry snake, or a memory.
She lives in a house for unwanted ones.
This is the place of knowledge.

As her mouth opens toward me, it is like a babe’s;
tongue stuck out to be fierce —
provoking merely pity.
This is the time of changing.

The light against her skin reveals too much use;
her gown is blue and white.
She pats my arm, adjusts her jade rosary.
This is the look of eternity.

They all hated her, before —
they thought her shameless, a malingerer.
Slowly, she revealed her innocence.
This is the path to forgiveness.

She danced, she danced, she danced lightly:
on feet made of dust.
Countless boys adored her, gave her flawless jewels.
This is how she remembers.

The house, three stories, the carpet in the grand library,
now, moth-eaten, rolled to save space in the attic.
She sings row, row, row your boat, her feeble arms rotating.
This is the way of all possessions.

She sat with her sisters on the dark mahogany furniture,
waiting for the sun to cure them.
They fled — too hasty — their heritage in barrels, drowned.
This is what is meant by family.

Chocolates, bacon, a stuffed rabbit,
are all in the world she desires.
When she is happy, the dead live again.
This is the blessing of forgetfulness.

And as I rise, she purses lips,
rattles beads, plucks knitted blanket,
asks for the next interlude, hushed.
This is the harvest of love.

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