Midnight in the Alzheimer's Suite

  Floyd Skloot



Lost in the midnight stillness, my mother

rises to dress and begin another

chilly day. She crosses the moonlit floor.

There is too much silence beyond the door,

and a lack of good cheer, so she breaks

into song. But the coiling lyric snakes

back on itself and tangles in her throat.

She stops long enough to see a cloud float

along the hall, but somehow the cloud speaks

in the voice of the night nurse. Someone peeks

from a doorway. Now someone starts to moan,

someone else coughs and my mother's stray song

returns for a moment: oh you belong

to me! If the audience would quiet

down, she would remember. Opening night,

that's what this must be, and the curtain parts,

and the spotlight is on, the music starts,

but there is too much movement, too much noise,

yet she cannot stop, must maintain her poise,

smile and keep on singing. Then it must be

over because the night nurse is there, she

embraces my mother and leads her back

offstage, whispering, bringing down the dark

again. Tired, but pleased with her last set,

my mother lies down for a well-earned rest.