I’ve had this plot bunny in my head for quite some time now (almost a decade, in fact) but I haven’t gotten down to writing it because I hadn’t figured out how yet. But now, I think I have.
Let me set up the story for you: it’s about a young person visiting their grandparent. The grandparent, housed in a nursing home, has Alzheimer’s. The young person has an eidetic/photographic memory.
I’ve been thinking about writing this as a prose but every time I get down to forming it, it doesn’t stick. I scrap it and shelf the idea for another day. The process of pulling the idea out of my mind palace’s plots shelf and regrettably putting it back in has finally stopped today. The solution to my problem: a Persona Poem.
A persona in poetry is defined as “a dramatic character, distinguished from the poet, who is the speaker of a poem.” Using a persona in a poem means that the content is being narrated by someone else. The poet doesn’t necessarily share the same sentiment as the persona. The poem, in this case, isn’t about the personal experience of the poet.
Considering that I do not have a photographic memory nor do I have any experience with Alzheimer’s, this approach is best suited for this I think.
So, here you go. Another poem written by yours truly. I hope to perform this on a stage someday or if not on stage, as a video.
July 13: Thursday, 09:00
the quiet hum of the radiator in the living room
the faded dingy yellow carpet
with a grape juice stain hiding under the floral recliner
that distinct smell of menthol balm stuck to everything
he sees me come in and lights up
his eyes are brighter today
his smile is there today
even his liver spots are smiling today
he remembered to brush his hair today
can I afford to be hopeful today
“are you my new student volunteer?”
July 13: Thursday, 14:00
the afternoon sun shining in from the bedroom window
the sheets on the bed, crisp and white
almost like a hotel – or maybe a hospital
that weird smell of stale bread and cedar wood
he sits at the foot of the bed
you can see the lines on his face so well
his hands tremble slightly
are you anywhere in there today
shuts the curtains, shoulders sighing
“the sun hurts my eyes…”
July 13: Thursday, 16:00
the familiar sound of the afternoon visitors
the photo albums scattered all over the living room table:
dog-eared pictures, all reddish from sun exposure
the comforting smell of old paper – delicate to the touch
he tells me about The One Girl that got away
he doesn’t remember that The One Girl
is actually grandma
with a wet gloss over his irises,
he rests his hands on my shoulder
“do it now or forever wish you had”
you’re not in there, not today
July 13: Thursday, 17:30
the bustling traffic from the beginning of rush hour
the warm glow of the sunset tinting the bedroom curtains
roses, gold and burnt terra-cotta orange
the spluttering cough-like roar of the heater kicking in
he sees me get up from my seat
his eyes are clearer today
his smile is softer today
the silence of his forgetfulness –
for a moment, breaking
are you going to ever be in there
“thank you for coming to see me, nobody does anymore”
we can try again tomorrow.
So there you go. I actually cried a bit while writing this poem. The feels are strong in this one wow. I wasn’t expecting that. Anyway, here’s to more poems and emptying my ever-full plot bunny shelf.
Hope you’re having a great day and I’ll see you in the next one.