Today is a self-portrait, and so I decided to go back to some ground I covered 8 or 9 years ago when I discovered that my father had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease since, like my father, like all of us really, who I am is tied up with the workings of my brain.
So when I started this poem, I wanted to work in a strict form to mirror, in a way, how I want my brain to work–with all the synapses firing in the order they’re supposed to–so I chose the sonnet, but one with a variation on the interlocking rhyme scheme. The second quatrain inverts the rhyme order of the first, and the rhyme for lines 11 & 14 echoes the A rhyme from the beginning. And the slant rhyme in line 13 is meant to show a little bit of slippage, as is the abrupt and non-syntactical end to the poem. It might be a little too precious, but it’s a first draft as well.
Self-Portrait in Hammock
I worry every day I’ll lose my mind,
my memories, all thanks to shitty genes,
stress, diet–I read science magazines,
the Alzheimer’s studies, to try and find
the latest drug or lifestyle change that seems
to slow the onset of dementia. I’ve
taken up crosswords, a glass of red wine
(or two) at dinner, writing down my dreams.
My grandma died without knowing who
she was, didn’t know any of her kids.
My dad gets lost now, can’t remember why
he went outside, if he took his pills, whose
house this is he’s living in. I’ve hidden
my fear that this is my future the best I…