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
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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