When my grandma died from COVID in December, she’d also spent many years descending into dementia. After listening to a 6 hour long ambient album called Everywhere at the end time by a musician from Manchester called The Caretaker, which attempts to sonically represent the slow declension into dementia, I decided to write a series of 6 poems. These poems were my attempt to access a way of representing the cruel rending away, from ourselves, of our being, even as we live. The poems breach the limits of the dimensions of time in order to illustrate the continuity of memory, and the accompanying repetitions that dissolve us into an unknowable fog, still anchored here—absent of any access to the connection that helps us belong to ourselves and thus some where in the world. My grandma is from the Black Country in the West Midlands of Britain. I agonised over the spelling of her idiom and think this the most accurate. If you can’t understand, this is very understandable and I am pleased to explain.
dementia I nan wakes from a dream in which nan wakes grandad from a nightmare. lie back down jim…yow con put that bren-gun down. yow ay at war no more…ther'yar. shush shush. gu back t'sleep. —when I gerrup there I'm gunna thump ya fer leavin' me 'ere. no time of day. she looks strange in the…the…mirror… steadily some semblance of herself in a throb that comes from her bloated leg. beetroot— —sore. remembers aching. blood won't slide—&…the dog…um…spot! time skips a beat & flash-bang-wallop : otherwiseotherwhere—otherworld! I dow remember gerrin' owtta bed? did I nod off? hunger. I day gu out t'day? did sumone visit? it wos light on'y a bit agu. dark. her father deftly fixing a gold pocket watch with steel tweezers. he wos a sickly man. exact. chew'd up each bite of food 28 times. the tiny bronze fragments laid out on an egg-shell handkerchief used for just this task. she's reading hymns & craving jam. grandson…he's that one (pointing)…he went to live in asia & married that pretty girl…ji…(jitter)…on…ji-on…? her glutamate receptors glitch. her ligands do not form the land of memory. an old song disintegrating into non-existence …I dow remember purrin' the tele on…that one…huh! who? I remember…been…bein'…(glimpse-glitch) young…a song…music: dancing. husband…catalogue…uncomfortable shoes…our protective cat from the 60s… the pain of giving birth to king & country. to children: 1 son. 2 daughters. I ay seen ya fer months…I was rownd yester-d' muvva! e'worn't…if he wudda bin 'ere I wudda remembered…I i'nt daft! wot's outside? pansies…the french pensees. warm tomatoes. rain. broad beans on long dowel wood rods set like tepees… 'is mucky gard'n shurts…black n' white flicks while bakin' apple pie. glitch-drone-glitch-panic-silence-drone-pulse-headache headache-drone-glitch-phase -glitch-glitch-panic-glitch-radio… awake on the floor…dog's going bonkers. 'e's a good boy 'in't ya! I'm filthy…ow'd I gerr'in such a…'ere? wen wos the 'ouse clean'd. the smell of bleach. 'er name wos mrs. ba she lived next door. 'er son went to south africa. 'e married someone wiv an accent. there's summat els' gorr'in 'ere. summat wiv a crown. o lord god deliver me. deliver me 'ome o lord almighty. I'm knacker'd. I live in an ache. there's nuffin. me. I. my. summat's eatin' me away. dimness : rumble rumble rumble roar. rumble embedded in another time from us. space: a cocoon of undisclosed objects rumble(ing) rumble rumble rumble(ing) rumble rumble rumble(ing rumble rumble rumble(ing) rumble rumble