Mennonite Poetry Home | Leonard Neufeldt



Alzheimer's Resource Finder

We lock the room, watch the mind
go missing like his baton, scrapbook
and marriage photo. He sorts
one by one what was taken along
to this room of small echoes:
a hymn that promises a balm
in Gilead, a map of the other side
of town where he used to live,
the picture of a mother he never knew,
full face with the corners torn,
the name of the river that salmon have
forgotten for years, the Russian Jew's
simple poem about a good life
as affliction that someone set to music
pitched for a mid-range of losses
and the painful privacy of an all-day
earworm hum, permission
to know the words or us gone amiss
like a moment disturbed

We agree with the doctor
that none of us gets exactly what we expect.
Sometimes more, a past, for instance,
with its regrets but entire as the horizon
beyond the bay, and the times he sang arias
with Samuel Ramey. Sometimes less,
partial scores that don't belong together,
the homelessness of a soiled vest, eyes
emptied by all that's unavailable,
abandoned, the fog up from the bay, tree
by tree banishing whatever was there,
even the garden he stared at moments ago
through the window where a Norway rat
looked for seeds in the broken
bird feeder

© Leonard Neufeldt. Bellingham Review, Vol. 38 (2015).




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