Michael Mark


Trust my inabilities. They are
reliable as gold. Count on the
gravity of my fragility. It will
always let you down. Climb
inside my defensiveness and
be dropped again. We will
break each other. Step on
the glass. How else
can you know if you love me?

Then it was

a mistake – You don’t have a sister; you had a brother.
funny – Sure, your mother’s in the kitchen cooking kreplach, whatever you say.
sad – It’s okay mom.
annoying – You can’t keep losing things. I can’t just stop everything to_____.
ignorable – Doesn’t matter, who cares, spilt milk, happens to everyone…
unreal – I’m not a murderer. I’m Michael. Unlock the bathroom.
pretend – Alright I’ll be the momma and you be the baby.
real – You can’t be by yourself anymore.
normal – That’s right, you don’t drive – too dangerous, that’s right.
new – She’s an aide, like a friend, she lives with you now.
tender – I know you are, I’m sorry, too.
terrifying – Doctor Jane said there’s no reason to make another appointment.
harder – I can’t do this anymore – just can’t.
life – I’m moving back in with you.
a different life –                  How much is that doggie in the window…
                                            Take me out to the ball game,
                                            We don’t throw our Cheerios – we eat them,
                                            Here’s more paper to tear up,
                                            Patty-cake-patty-cake baker’s man.

Then it was like it was always like this.

No one we know has Alzheimer’s

I tell her
because she remembers
why she forgets   her name
               this morning, mine
                             long ago the oven

from the fridge  
                             So we sing  

If you’re happy and you know it         Not
to remember but to forget          

Who she is/was        who
am I                  to her       and you  

really want to show it

lyrics, rhythm, clapping
us                     together – whoever

I am, was to her, we   whoever she is     

my mom

does not have Alzheimer’s

if she is my mom
she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s

                             “No one we know does.”

clap your hands

It’s getting harder to remember
I remember her  always             

How else but by not being her
could she no longer have it? Could she
beat it. Never

                get it. Could I

                bear it. Whoever I          am

to her, was her, she is, I hope …


and knows         whoever I am

(It’s getting harder to remember)


I could bear it.

Because she’s no longer

I remind myself


not mom

if at all/if anything

it has mom

it took her brains
to outsmart it.                Crafty

If you’re happy and you

know it

and you  




MICHAEL MARK is the author of Visiting Her in Queens is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet which won the 2022 Rattle Chapbook prize. His poems have appeared in Copper Nickel, The New York Times, Pleiades, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, Southern Review, The Sun, 32 Poems, and other places. His two books of stories are Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum).

Read more by Michael Mark

Author’s Website
Poems in B O D Y
Poem in The Sun Magazine
Poem in Rattle
Poem in RADAR