Copyright 2018

Each Other

Rick Kempa

Some piece of paper
is not in her purse
where it once was, and
she ransacks her room
wild-eyed, crying,
“Five times a day I
lose something, Oh I
can’t stand it,” and she
wrings her hands as if
the small space enclosed
could be squeezed into
something more real than
this fear of the worst
fate, the forgetting.


I catch up to her
in the hallway,
work my fingers
between her palms
so that she is not
clutching nothing.


“Whatever it is,
we don’t need it,” I say,
and I itemize
all that we do have—
books, keys, money,
each other. At this
she smiles, and the barb
that holds the dead weight
of things forgotten
eases from her mind,
and we become
a mother and son
stepping out
hand-in-hand.

Rick Kempa lives in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where he has just finished his thirtieth and final year of teaching at Western Wyoming College. Other poems of his on matters of health and illness have appeared in Ars Medica, The Healing Muse, JAMA, and Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State, 2009), and Bellevue Literary Review.