October 17, 2010

Talking Underwater.

It’s estimated that every 72 seconds, another person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Right now, in communities all across the country, people are walking to commemorate the lives of lost loved ones, to remember them as the vibrant individuals we once knew, and to commit to understanding this horrible disease and to finding a cure.

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In anticipation, the following is in honor of all the victims of this disease and the people who love them, past, present and future. As I bear witness, I learn to love this one life, this one mind I’ve been given.

May you be happy.

When the floors of the Alzheimer’s unit are buffed to a brilliant gloss,
the ceiling lights become beacons, no more reflected in the shine,
but glaring up from beneath a liquid surface, rippling, waving,
lapping at the far shores of minds so long lost they’re out of reach
without the aid of a raft, an oar, a good stiff breeze
to fill the invisible sails of a Chiron’s craft.

Beneath the surface sometimes there appears a submerged village,
complete with steepled church and gas station,
water-logged store fronts, parks with duck ponds and mighty oaks,
and on Sundays, if you watch them closely, thirty frail heads
turn to listen to church bells calling them from the depths,
joining the now with some watery past, muffled, leagues beneath their feet.

Their faces watch in disbelief as they traverse the surface
of a lake that should, by all rational measure, swallow them up,
leaving tiny wakes behind orthopedic shoes, peering into the depths,
recognizing loved ones long dead swimming down the streets,
greeting one another as they pass in aqueous slow motion.

All of us walk on the dome of the sky,
oblivious to the worlds beneath our feet,
occasionally giving a double-take to the beacon
shining up at us from below,
lighting our way home,
calling us back to the worlds we left behind,
but some of us know where we’re headed quite soon,
dreaming of the place even when we’re awake.

Our mouths move and we gesture wildly,
trying to get through, marveling in our visions,
but it’s like we’re talking under water,
and the great fluorescent sun on the surface
grows dimmer and farther each and every day.

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