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Poetry and Medicine
December 7, 2011

Dementia: A Winter Veil

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

Author Affiliation: Hebron, New Hampshire (

JAMA. 2011;306(21):2304. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1689

My mother leans forward
in her chair. Pale eyes
sink beneath red folds of skin,
stare through layers of glass
at the slow, relentless fall
of flakes outside her window.
A veil of snow, woven
in shades of white and gray,
blurs the seams between the trees
and wraps the world in gauze.
Her wrinkled fingers smooth
the strands of wool unraveling
within her shawl
while frail ghosts swirl
around and around–
a flurry of shadowed faces,
faded photographs
of forgotten places,
careless words,
and bitter conversations,
now softened, now soundless.
Swaddled in the gentle falling,
falling of flakes,
she slowly slips
beneath her shroud of snow.

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