This is poem about old age. Specifically, dementia. My family has been in a caregiving role to someone with severe dementia and memory loss for a few years and it’s very, very sad to see memory slipping away, because personality, emotion, understanding, and affection go with it. This poem – which at first follows a very complicated meter and rhyme scheme but eventually disintegrates into free verse – is my attempt at exploring dementia and memory loss…
Winter comes. Hold your breath and stand.
Face the cold, the hairline fractures
And jackfrost cracks in every strand
Of winter sunlight. Fall into
The snowfall in your hair that frays
Like autumn light in withered leaves.
Wandering, whispered sunlight splays
On tree-light soaked forgotten roads-
The memory of rich red sheaves.
Carmine – Crimson – Auburn – Trees. Clutched
In hands old and as veined as leaves,
The Skeletons of leaves, drowning fast
In a riverful of memories.
But all the river runs away;
leaves and water spiral cold and freeze
As blown and whirling memory:
Laughing faces in the breeze that spills
Bright and confusing over you.
The wind that smells forgetful fills
Your hands, your lungs, your mind, your eyes.
Thoughts blow, slipping in the cool wind
That whispers all your breath away.
So spin in listing circles, twinned
With worlds dancing, meaningless.
Deep winter stretches out, away;
a deluge of white crashes down
on you, falls into another day.
Drown in lost memory, and drift
into the white behind your eyes.
Like tarnished silver thin as days
Pressed like flowers between goodbyes.
Soft sunlight echoes down to you:
Shining summer. Rippling, bright;
singing waterfall, whispering,
Splashing. Let it cover you. Light…
…E t e r n i t y.
© Sheila Roberts