The impersistence of memory

One of the most frightening illnesses to watch in another person is dementia. The illness attacks the brain and steals a person’s memory of all things that are meaningful to that person. It renders the person confused, unable to maintain a conversation. It is painful to watch, especially if the person affected is a close friend or family member. 

Here are two poems that I’ve written about being an observer to the impersistence of memory. My hope is that, someday, a cure is found for dementia.

the memory care unit (kyrielle)
clutches a little stuffed bear
her hand wanders to her hair
was amazing in her prime
lovely mind broken by time.
 aimlessly down the hall,
watched for fear he will fall,
ran like the wind in his prime,
lovely mind broken by time.
that her husband died
awaits him like a young bride.
golden dancer in her prime,
lovely mind broken by time.
red anger flashes at night
will not go without a fight
expressed strong views in her prime
lovely mind broken by time.
could happen to anyone
war from which we cannot run
this is a sharp, steep climb
lovely minds broken by time.

Fragmented Song (terza rima sonnet)
My path is littered with shadows of songs,
Of broken shards of bedtime lullabies.
Their echoes sound as I hurry along.
My path bears echoes of long ago cries.
I stumble over the rocks of fragmented dreams.
Can I capture the song before it does?
But all I hear are dementia’s scared screams,
As time tears holes in mother’s memories.
Singing with her feels like a distant dream.
Oh, to set all those lost lullabies free!
But time has elapsed; has it been too long?
When did sweet mother’s songs escape from me?
I stop to hear echoes of long-lost songs.
I wait, listen, and then, hurry along.

4 thoughts on “The impersistence of memory”

  1. Where do you want to go today?

    I can feel the desperation and frustration in the words of your poems. Very well done and thank you. I understand they are learning more about how the brain works, and doesn't work, and hopefully we will be able to care for our brains better than we have in the past.

  2. These are wonderful poems. I never would have understood them until my mother in law developed dementia. She's in early stages but already it has so destroyed the quality of her life (she's now considered terminally ill from a different health problem). In her nursing home is a woman who shuffles around, carrying a stuffed bear. She sits at mealtimes, her head bowed, barely eating. Sometimes she wipes her mouth with her napkin over and over. She used to sit at my mother in law's table until my mil could no longer leave her room.

  3. Both the poems and the pictures are beautiful!! SO sorry you are experiencing this. I can only imagine how agonizing it must be.

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