For all the pretty curtains and the tasteful prints
and the carers’ determined bonhomie,
this is the house of the mad and my mother
a permanent resident.
Sane, she was aggressive. She is docile now.
She was unsociable, sane. Now she smarms –
at folk she’d once have considered common.
She thinks I am dead or my long dead father.
You’re a nurse or her daughter. Alzheimer’s
is the ultimate in wish fulfilment.
The deranged have no beauty or dignity, only
the trick of absolute exclusion. Yet you move
amongst these ghosts with such brave, loving
surefootedness. Je suis desolé!