Dialogues with the Dead
by Jennifer Lagier

She sits in memory care garden,
soaks up sunshine, lists her dead,
tries to remember their faces,
strains to hear voices silent for decades.

She asks if I knew her mother,
a skilled seamstress who died
in Germany twenty-five years
before I was born.

Random reminiscence floats to the surface,
temporarily claims her attention.
Cognition comes and goes,
a distracted trail that meanders.

I think of my father, obsessed
over elusive names which he scribbled
onto paper scraps, then hid in a shoebox,
clues we discovered once he was gone.

I am still waiting, wonder how long
before my mental train jumps the track,
one more declining senior citizen,
lost, befuddled, mind gone astray.

PAINTING: Vessel in a Drift of Diamond Light in the Sky of the Mind by Morris Graves (1944).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Dementia and loss of cognitive faculties can be terrifying for those suffering from the affliction and heartbreaking for those who love them. In addition, those of us who have a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease or other mental health issues always wonder how long before their own minds begin to unravel.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 19 books, her work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, she has taught with California Poets in the Schools, edits the Monterey Review, and helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her recent books include Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press) and COVID Dissonance (CyberWit). Visit her at