I try, and fail, to imagine what it’s like –
To not know that you don’t overturn a planter
on the kitchen counter. To have no way of
summoning the words to explain why you did it.
There is dirt, dirt everywhere, and she is
fixated on the barely-visible cookie particle
between the stove and the fridge. She
can’t stop wanting to get rid of the television –
the assurances that it will be removed when
there is sufficient manpower to do it
soothes for only a minute, perhaps two,
and then it’s back to the why. Why is it there.
Her world is shrinking. She has a vague memory
of being active in the morning, of making things
look better, but cannot remember the simple
actions of reaching under the sink for the
cleaning supplies. Her sleeves are always
stretched out, sopping wet. She moves
a knick-knack, a framed picture, then moves
it back again. This is “cleaning.” Hence –
the dirt piled on the kitchen counter. I think,
who knows what she would have done with
it if we hadn’t come up here just now? She
may have put it back in the planter. She may
have tried to put it down the disposal. I have
so many trust issues now, and yet she trusts
me implicitly; she obediently sits and eats her
toast as we try to manipulate the dirt into
a Stop & Shop bag. She drinks her juice and
marvels at the cleanliness of the counter when
we have finished. And I can’t get mad. This
is not her fault. She doesn’t know any better.
And this is what I simply cannot understand.
What I do understand is the power of words.
Not please don’t dump dirt all over the counter,
but Maybe the older you grow and the less easy
it is to put thought into action, maybe that’s why
it gets all locked up in your head and becomes
a burden. I am reading Capote to her. In her
well life, he was a favorite. She listens, rapt,
laughs at everything you’re supposed to laugh
at, like she remembers having read it the first
time, and then again. And again. Golightly’s
frantic monologues soothe us. And in these
moments together, there is understanding.