Monday, March 20, 2006

Alzheimer's Need Not Be A Death Sentence

I've decided not to believe in doctors

social workers either,
those who would squirrel him away
in an Alzheimer's wing. Wrap him in a cocoon,
a locked ward where resident captives
drown in respiridone and haldol.
Pace. Mumble to relatives of sixty years ago.

An old woman makes bread for her dead children.
She opens an oven door,
pushes them in.
A man who used to be removes his clothes.
A sock here, a shirt there
and then comes his underpants.
In the hall, a low hum, the Devil's breath,
you wouldn't believe.

I sobbed the two hours we were there
and then I brought him home.
That was last October.
Now it's Spring. We plant our primroses.
Read each other poems: Jorie Graham, Bill Stafford.
Even me. We brush the dog, eat out.
Neighbors wave. At shul,
he schmoozes and prays.
A grandchild climbs
in his lap.


-Esther Altshul Helfgott

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Esther,
Like cancer, it need not be a death sentence.
See you April 20th after my trip.
Barbara

Puah said...

Thanks Esther. You help us all to look into the future and get a grip. All your details really take me there.I like these short lines too and the emotiion they coax out.

By the way, I enjoy the way "anonymous" also has a name!
( :

mmarzipan4 said...

acheingly sad...and then the end...acheingly beautiful.