My Father Has Alzheimer’s and Lives with Me
on the South Side of Chicago
He has wandered off again/how did he figure out the new lock/ busy washing his peed-in pants/cleaning Cheerios off the floor/ checking to be sure he took his Aricept, Atenolol, Lipitor riding high on his shoulders at the Macy’s parade watching a super-sized Snoopy float by grab my parka/head out into high winds howling off the lake a desperate prayer to a god who left/long ago Check with Molly next door who gives him almond biscuits and milk stop by Wells Fargo where he sips free coffee with plastic stirrers hiking in the Sierras/sleeping under stars Orion, Taurus, Pisces, Gemini call 911/stumble home in the snow/where I find him curled up in the kitchen with Sophie, my grey-haired retriever breathe/buy a better lock/lord I wish I believed in you/
Review by Joe Bisicchia
Thanks to Claire Scott for writing this poem. For the many who live this reality, it hits home. I will always be a sucker for the imagery of a child upon a father’s shoulders at a parade. For those families crushed by this disease, we realize how the roles reverse. Claire Scott juxtaposes that reality clearly. All the parade of harsh happenings seem to overwhelm us. To the point of giving up. But, ultimately, I find great warmth in her last words. To me, this poem becomes a prayer, even if unintended by the speaker, of enormous depth. The speaker wants to believe, perhaps believe again in what it is like to watch that parade from her god’s shoulders. I call it a prayer because, the words aren’t “I don’t believe,” but “I wish I believed.” That is the desperate prayer to “a god who left long ago,” one now hard to know. Everyone who goes through this disease knows that loss, along with that wish. For me, I like to believe the eventual answer to that prayer somehow returns in a procession of happenings ever glorious.