She descends in sunshine


She sits in sunshine
– not in her private room.

Communal lounge an open space,
fresh air filtering aging staleness,
curtains straining light, a translucent
membrane partitioning her internal
present from her external past.

She’s self-aware. She knows
she won’t remember my name.
She knows that facts are missing,
memories are slipping. She knows
she misses her sons, but how many
she can’t recall.

Her fingers fidget, nails immaculate,
shaped in soft rose enamel,
her daughter’s act of tenderness.
But she would never ask
her children to come.

We talk as others bleat:
baa-baa-baa single syllable
repeats – an adult child returned
to the babbling phase.
The sound fades as staff stall
his daily escape attempt.

We look on, as she looks on
this descent of man,
knowing her own trajectory,
mind falling in slow motion.

We talk of weather, the darkness and
continual rain. She doesn’t believe
in letting it get her down – we must
make our own sunbeams.

So here she sits in sunshine
– not in her private room.

A poem inspired by a lady in a dementia wing where I volunteer as a visitor for Age Concern. (Photo credit: Sunday Times)


6 thoughts on “She descends in sunshine

  1. I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard the condition put so empathetically or broached in such illustrative terms as those I read here. Capital characterization RT.

    • Your complimentary words mean a lot to me. It was my wish to convey the sense that she is still an individual with a strong identity, despite her failing memory. I’m hoping the poem will remind me to continue to visit her, as well as a Momento Mori to myself.

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