You have forgotten it all.
You have forgotten your name,
where you lived, who you
loved, why.
                      I am simply
your nurse, terse and unlovely
I point to things
and remind you what they are:
chair, book, daughter, soup.
 
And when we are alone
I tell you what lies
in each direction: This way
is death, and this way, after
a longer walk, is death,
and that way is death but you
won’t see it
until it is right
in front of you.
 
              Once after
your niece had been to visit you
and I said something about
how you must love her
or she must love you
or something useless like that,
you gripped my forearm
in your terrible swift hand
and said, she is
everything—you gave
me a shake—everything
to me.
               And then you fell
back into the well. Deep
in the well of everything. And I
stand at the edge and call:
                  chair, book, daughter, soup.

  • Rita Mae Reese, “Dear Reader” from The Alphabet Conspiracy. Copyright © 2011 by Rita Mae Reese. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

  • Source: The Alphabet Conspiracy (Arktoi Books, 2011)

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