Shirley Alexander

(12-05-1953 / Somewhere under heaven, Georgia, USA)

Alzheimer’s


I dream I am walking on a high swaying bridge.
It is made of old wood, like sun bleached barn siding,
more visible in evening light with splintered edges
forming deep shadows of grey and blue.
My family is with me, walking together above the forest.

I feel something behind me and I turn around, unprepared.
She is a young girl, molded slender of the same wood as the bridge.
Behind her is sunshine, and fields of red clover.
I turn to tell my family, but they cannot see the girl or behind;
their bridge ahead is buried in a damp and creeping fog.

I reach away from me to touch the rough wood of the girl’s cheek.
My hand has left an imprint, soft and pink like a newborn’s skin.
I look into my palm; it is transparent, brittle as fine glass.
I cry out to my family, “Look what she has stolen from me! ”
They have disappeared into the fog and do not hear my voice.

I am compelled to reach again. The girl, the peace around her,
draws me. I touch my lips gently to her thieving forehead.
Her face blossoms ripe with rich colors of peach and rose.
Her eyes laugh blue spring waters in a sparkle of sunlight.
My face is suddenly still, clear and cold to my numbing touch.

She speaks to me now of memories, in a voice I knew long ago.
“Come to me. Walk with me for just a while, and we will sing.”
I want to embrace her warming body with my weary soul. As we become,
I see the shell of me break and crumble into shards of glass, small as sand.
They fall through splintered cracks as I turn to run backwards, already gone.


©Shirley A. Alexander

For Aunt Vivian, Aunt Joyce, Aunt Thursday, and all the other beautiful people in my life whose spirits have wandered into the sunshine behind them and found a place to rest.

Submitted: Thursday, June 12, 2008
Edited: Friday, April 19, 2013

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  • Rookie - 0 Points James Ronan (4/11/2009 12:19:00 AM)

    It takes away our humanity and leaves us with an empty shell. The shell will fade away but the memory of Aunt Vivian will live on in your poetry. That was very nicely expressed. You are a good writer and may good fortune come your way by your book.
    jimmer (Report) Reply

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