Tuesday, April 17, 2007

hand, glove, her journey into forgetting

latex-gloved hands
that still play piano now—
holding on tight

I wonder if she'll remember my face, soon. Names already forgotten. This gradual unnaming, unlearning, leaves of life's books strewn from lawn to gutter, wind-scattered, browning under acid rain. Unforgiving blue sky behind curtains drawn tight unless we visit. Plastic drinking glasses gathered against loss, on windowsill, behind dresser, evenly paced in closet corners. Wads of crumpled paper napkins like rescue crews climbing over. The long forgetting. Still knows who I am, but not why, and not where. Asks about her parents, long-buried, if they still love her, are they well, have we heard from them lately, why won't they let her walk home to see them again. During visits, she takes the potted sedum plant we gave her out of the closet where she'd hid it, afraid the staff would steal it. She's afraid they'll take everything, clothes, glasses, kleenex, plants, memories. They stopped trying to take away the latex gloves she insists on wearing so that no one steals her wedding band. She finds new gloves, wherever they hide them. After we leave, the plants probably go back in the closet. Had to take her easy chair away because she was pushing it against the door at night, to keep the demons out. This childlike forgetting, this reversion to dreams of childhood poverty. She unnames them. Made-up words and mumbles instead of proper knowns. Language leaving her with improper nouns. The lifelong piano playing probably the last thing to go; she still plays daily, from memory, or sight-reading, or both. Music has more depth than words, more engraved meaning, more character, more truth.

my mother's long journey: a solo voyage
I cannot follow, only watch

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