Anatomy

I find him sitting
in the midst of his fellow residents
in the dining room
that doubles as an activity space.

His eyes are fixed
on the TV screen
that has a photo
of two young African American boys,
maybe brothers, too
like us,
enjoying the cardboard robot
they built together
and innocent to the many pangs
of loss
they will start to feel.

The activities assistant
asks such simple questions,
ones that some in the group
of lost and frozen minds
can find a plausible answer to
and have a momentary smile:
“What are those things coming
out of the robot’s head?
Are the boys having fun?
Did you ever make a robot
with a friend when you were young?”

That last query invites a memory,
and he recalls his childhood friend,
Tippy, who once made his own robot
and not long after
moved away;
the memory brings with it
an unknowing smile.

I marvel at how far
his mind has drifted
and how much of it
he has lost
since the days he sat
in Anatomy class
as a frightened medical student
and learned the acronyms
that kept the body’s parts
fixed for recall
whenever he was asked
to name them.

Barry H. Gordon, a recently retired psychologist, has authored Your Father, Your Self and coauthored other professional books. “I have been writing poetry since I was a teen. Writing has always been a wonderful path for me to process my feelings and experiences personally and in my psychology practice.”

About the Poem

“This poem is about visiting my brother in a nursing home. He is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and I am experiencing the sense of loss for him and for me.”

Comments

7 thoughts on “Anatomy”

  1. Your poem profoundly moved me. It transported me to the final years of my mother’s life—a time when she was physically present but mentally lost. I believe that she was oblivious to her situation; my dad and I, however, suffered as we remembered the once vital woman she had been.

  2. What wonderful concision…you sketched the whole image, the setting, your relationship, his personality and the worlds that have been lost. It’s very beautiful and moving.

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