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Mother, a Phi Beta Kappa,
who graduated second in her college class,
and could have become a doctor or lawyer,
although women back then
were not encouraged
to do such things,
now, cannot remember
where to find her glasses, keys, the car
left in a tow away zone,
ice cream and hamburger unthawing
in the trunk, golf clubs swimming
in milky blood.


She watches the same video of Lawrence Welk
three times in a month.
The toilet,
she forgets to flush.


Talking to me on the phone,
she will discuss only the weather,
and if I ask to talk to Father,
lays down the receiver
to look for him
and does not come back.


She knows she has trouble remembering
but can't recall why. When her husband
explains the word Alzheimer's,
she tells him, "If I go insane,
I'll commit suicide."


Sitting in her favorite chair,
she compulsively clutches
her threadworn sweater,
a security blanket, while I
read her a story,
as she would to me,
before I could decipher
the words.