Your Dementia by Rick Swann

Your Dementia

After the surgery a friend picked
the most perfectly red, ripe
strawberry and brought it straight
to me in my hospital bed and slid it
into my mouth. I had to spit it out,
the taste was so metallic.
When I think of those taste buds
I think of you. And the time
I stumbled into the abandoned
lemon grove in Extremadura
right before dark with acidic fruit
rotting on the ground—that smell,
too. And the way wind set the empty
lemon tree branches clacking
throughout the long cold night
as I waited for the train to continue
its journey and mine;
a clattering just like the repetitive
staccato music I am forced
to listen to while on hold
to your insurance company;
so similar to the chatter
you filled every silence with,
something I never thought I’d miss.

by Rick Swann

Editor’s Note: The mix of short and long sentences in this poem emphasizes the nature of illness and loss (unpredictable), along with its surprising relationship to scent and memory, none which is entirely under our control.