My great-grandmother was an early dementia,

only a few months over 60 when her mind started

to retire. My mother’s memory of her

moments are sometimes comical: a glass

of Wessen oil where there was supposed to be

water, Yiddish profanities without prompt,

and all five feet of her body bent over

in the parking lot, picking up after the dog

with her bare hands. A woman

from the old country, made foreign again in the land

she worked hard to love. She never forgot

how to play the piano, even as her children

became strangers. She filled her pockets

with stolen gum and other petty thefts.

A gold-coated lion paperweight, proudly gifted,

sat for decades on my grandmother’s desk

because no one had the courage to return it.

I was a kid the first time I heard that story,

of the lion and its origins, and of course I loved it,

the absurdity, her unwitting audacity. The absent

brain knows nothing of rules, etiquette, laws.

Either it doesn’t know, or it doesn’t care.

The way that the mind unravels is so frightening,

so unreasonable, that sometimes

the only thing you can do is laugh, or marvel.

Now in my possession, the lion is a treasure,

a reminder; even loss can bring us

beautiful things.

Danielle Shorr

Danielle (she/her) is an MFA alum and professor of disability rhetoric and creative writing at Chapman University. She has a fear of commitment in regard to novel writing and an affinity for wiener dogs. She was a finalist for the Diana Woods Memorial Prize in Creative Non-fiction and her work has appeared in Lunch Ticket, Hobart, Driftwood Press, The Florida Review, The New Orleans Review and others. @danielle

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