My wife worried what we’d do when we retired.
So far we’re spending it looking for things:
Keys, coats, glasses. Sometimes they’re on our heads
Or in our hands. Sometimes on an odd shelf.
At first it’s irritating, then a challenge.
I walk the house, looking through my wife’s eyes
from breakfast table to bathroom, in closets, in couches.
Or think like a wallet or a phone. Where would I hide?
As my father’s dementia deepened, he lost his edge,
his quick sarcasm. Or maybe he just forgave us,
released the resentments, forgot the ways we’d let him down
and became, if not a hugger, a ready smiler, a back patter, a fan.
Once I found a birthday card drawn by my son at two. I looked
like a smiling potato. When dementia comes, I hope it’s the forgiving kind.
ON THE DRIVE TO UNCLE PETE’S
Beside me in the old V Dub, Granny waited
as if dormant, as if cars had just been invented,
as if practicing her Irish training to be still until the hated
Black and Tans had passed, as if that war had never ended.
At sixteen, her silence mystified me. Her joyless ride
day after day terrified me. To get a rise, I tried
asking if her priest-son Pete had nun honeys on the side.
I said I joined the priesthood, then admitted I had lied.
Except for one Oh Jackie! she waited silent as a stone
like looking out the window at the lawn when we were home,
nodding off to sleep, jolting straight awake, always alone.
For what? I often asked. She kept her thoughts her own.
So I sped up, beeped the horn, wildly gesticulated.
She stared still straight ahead and waited, and waited.
Jack Powers is the author of Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.