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
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
if at all/if anything
it has mom
it took her brains
to outsmart it. Crafty
If you’re happy 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).