Mary told me, confidentially of course,

When she walked in the kitchen and turned around,

she told me she couldn’t remember my name

but she knew my face – it had remained the same

as the last time she saw it thirty years back

“But she saw me just last year”, I said to Jack


She felt very low, he said, not quite herself

not the old Mary that we all loved and knew,

“Please make me a cocoa and I’ll go back to bed”,

“But you’ve only just had breakfast Mary”, I said

“And who are you? Have we met before my dear?”

When did this deterioration first appear?


“It’s crept up on us”, Jack replied with a shrug

“At first we thought it just ‘senior moments’,

it’s not like she’s physically ill, it’s worse

her memory’s got lost somewhere, a dreadful curse”

Mary, once vibrant and bright as a button,

now tarnished and woolly edged


“I’m at my wits end and I need a short break,

I can’t leave her with someone she doesn’t know,

who doesn’t love her like I do, fifty years

together”, he said. “I try to reassure her fears,

holding her close in bed at night when she turns

her head and sees a stranger’s face next to hers”


“You’re Peggy’s daughter,” she looked at me smiling,

but her eyes were vacant like dark empty pools.

A questioning gaze that fleetingly flickers

across the brow, then realisation stirs

and you can sense the doubt that shows on her face

as she turns to Jack. Another senior moment?


He takes her in his arms and they dance closely

together to music they hear in their heads.

She smiles as he gently caresses and soothes

her with words that he would not normally choose,

but those she remembers from when a young girl,

a time she inhabits, an age long ago


This wasn’t the Mary that I had once known

but a stranger who lived in a world all alone

She walked into the room but left Mary behind

The one she had been in another frame of mind


Joanna Wyndham Ward 

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