Monday, June 21, 2010

Dementia meditation, bike ride 6/21/10

The problem is not dying; the problem is not dying. The phrase has run through my head for days now, like a prosody exercise with bite (over-bite).

Startled four good-sized tan and black piglets along Kam Highway before He`eia Pier. They turned and ducked into the brush, wagging their little tails.

One small blue sandal on the shoulder of Kahekili. Left or right?

Google search that lands on this blog: dementia patient does not know difference between 2 hours and 2 minutes; a second wonders about links between cheese and Alzheimer's.

Birds singing from a monkey pod at the corner of Kahekili and Hui Iwa as the light waits to change. Where's the change? my Republican interlocutor demanded on the plane. Said environmentalists were to blame for the Gulf disaster; they forced the oil companies to drill in deep water. Otherwise, they'd drill on land. Our mothers-with-dementia stories matched.

Katy Butler writes in the NY Times about how she and her mother turned off her father's pacemaker. Demented, the pacemaker kept him alive, a kind of perverted fountain of youth. Teresias with a tiny engine in his chest. Sudden death is out of fashion these days. We insist that our good-byes go on, and on.

No one has found the line between what we are willing to concede and what we cannot any longer resist. It's the border between legal and alien territories, between the place where they do not ask for ID and the place where they will not accept it. It's somewhere before or after the keys are taken away or the 3 a.m. wanderings begin or the CIA has implanted a mic in your forehead. When you reach the border, you are no longer capable of refusing yourself entry. Fantasies of carbon dioxide forgotten. You cannot remember to have killed yourself.

The verbs peel away, as if you are slowly forgetting French, volume by volume of grammar exercises. The past is not simple or conditional or subjunctive. It cannot be conjugated. There is absence in the present tense before that, also, ducks away. Scattershot nouns, processed with unaffiliated verbs, pesto of pine and saw dust.

The cat turns on the phone by lying on it. Sangha called 911 when he was 15 months old. Someone at your number called. Is there an emergency? She found joy in noticing the stones, the daffodils. She found joy in noticing them again. She found joy. There was an instant, unremembered. Past that now, she "dwindles," dies passively.

"Mom," I wanted to say, I'm ready to give up if you are." Instead, I asked if I could kiss her cheek. She said yes. Soft.


andy godefroy said...

I found the beginning of this reminded me of the bing commercials about how google takes us off course into random waters. The funny thing is I like how google gives us random semi connected answers to our search. I get the same feeling of distracted enjoyment from this piece.

susan said...

But look at this, Andy!

Deborah A. Miranda said...

Oh, Susan. Pleasure/pain.

Carolyn Ogburn said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Jill said...

Susan, I read that Times article. It was difficult to read like this poem. I keep rereading it because I kept missing parts. Love this poem. Keep posting.