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Poetry and Medicine
April 18, 2017

Forgotten Loss

Author Affiliations
  • 1Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA. 2017;317(15):1586. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19532

Alzheimer’s left the old woman
undone, like a rag of a doll
dropped in a chlorine pool
and pulled out too late,
turned pale and unrecognizable,
color leeched straight out of her.
Her children stayed
by the door, as if searching
for an escape. Their fear
was not for their mother.
Mid-fifties, those children
feared for themselves.
Hands stuffed in the pockets
of their worn jeans
while loose strands of helical
hair drifted across their eyesight,
those grown children feared
what she might have given them.
Robed in a white bedsheet,
she had become wholly
demented with her last breath,
and they no longer saw their mother.

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