A man begins to lose his word-finding abilities, his ability to perform everyday activities and his ability to communicate with his wife. He realizes his growing losses and incapacities. Even as he worries how to make amends to his wife, he grows distant and isolated. The poem ends with a vivid scene: the man stands in front of the woodpile with the axe raised--he looks at but does not recognize his wife screaming behind the closed bay window. "[H]e never / hears what it was she never said."


This moving poem chronicles the progressive dementia of a man with Alzheimer's disease. Details, such as his use of "sharp knives to butter / apple scones" foretell the dangers of this disease and how even simple, ordinary life is completely transformed by such a diagnosis. Terror and isolation are not limited to the patient; family members are also victims in this disease.

Primary Source

The Healing Muse


Silverman Review Press

Place Published

Syracuse, N.Y.