Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Broken Cup
These eight poems, selected from Margret Gibson’s manuscript, Broken Cup, focus on her husband David McKain’s progressing dementia.

spacer    Remembering
   Chalk and Slate
   Like Ice
   Hard of Hearing

Once a verbal household, we used words to probe and transform our lives into poetry or memoir. We employed words to teach, discuss, distill, concentrate, argue, make puns; we depended on words to reflect, plan ahead, or remember.

Now for David, nouns are retreating, detaching themselves from the things they used to name. Pantomime is on the rise, also frustration.

We struggle moment by moment with an illness that affects David's brain, and therefore him. “It's not your fault,” I have said to him. “This is a physical illness whose target is the brain.” I'm counseling detachment, his not taking it too personally.

Whatever else Alzheimer’s does, it takes away the mind-made self, that construct of words we consider a permanent self. Memory loss undoes the certainty of knowing oneself by concept and familiar pattern as surely as it erases one's skill at the computer or muddles the performance of a simple household task.

Where once was clarity, now is confusion; where independence, dependence; where confidence, fear. It’s all too easy to feel broken.