! ! Alan's Alzheimers - Poem by Alison Cassidy
He stared at us sternly
from his oval frame above the table -
a rugged, handsome man
in his early fifties
with neatly clipped moustache and cowboy hat.
Later, at the nursing home,
they wheeled him toward us -
breath whistling through ancient lungs,
toothless mouth gaping,
eyes fixed inanely on the ceiling.
I used not to like him.
Dogmatic and dictatorial,
bossy and bellicose -
a man too fond of boozing
and laughing at his own jokes.
But today, when milky eyes
lit up in recognition,
and skinny hands clung-
I felt a wave of such tenderness
as I could not have imagined.
I took him in my arms
and kissed his scrappy hair,
and felt strangely at peace in his company.
Dementia had lifted the mask
to reveal the soul smiling beneath.
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