What is art? How does one create significance and address sacred issues, life issues with words? How can art cross from the specific and the personal to the larger and more universal spaces of meaning? How can personal pain transform itself into universal consciousness and connection? How does community hold art’s preciousness? How does one stitch one’s heart back together again?
Saturday night my friend Michael Horvich read some of his poetry (for about a half an hour) between the musical sets of Peter Demuth at a cafe run by at-risk youth. There were about 40 of us in the audience. Michael’s poetry essentially deals with his experience of coping with his partner’s (of over 35 years) early onset of Altzheimers first diagnosed when he was 55. His poems are poignant, raw, real, especially because Michael’s delivery was so solid, vulnerable, and riveting. The poems came alive. Time stopped. These magical transformations certainly did not alter reality, but made truth and love and caring, visceral and honest. We were witnesses.
Perhaps it was because I have known Michael and Gregory for so long, perhaps it was because watching someone open their heart so publicly and freely, perhaps it was because the strength and love expressed were so palpable, that I couldn’t move my eyes, my ears, my very marrow from a deep, sincere, and fixed focus.
Some Flip Alzheimer’s Observations – 2012
Shoes and sox have turned into wondering “In
what order are these?”
The belt and the belt loops no longer recognize
Reading glasses when worn make the room look
Reading glasses when not worn do not help with
Sleep clothes left in the bathroom are not in the
drawer at bedtime.
Underpants and undershirts no longer have
names or identities.
For that matter underpants and undershirts no
longer have fronts or backs.
Sometimes pointing helps, sometimes the
response is non-directional.
Button-up shirts are pulled over and pull-over
shirts have too many holes.
A hanger’s only purpose is confusion.
Taking something out of a pocket from the
inside of one’s pants does not work.
Knives and forks do not work as easily as
Putting ice into a glass at dinnertime consists of
too many steps.
“No” often means “Yes.” So what does “Yes”
The “yes” is the tenacious commitment to and the trembling embrace of Michael’s life situation, standing stalwart and mostly resolute to make a life from the fragments and the shards.
(Michael’s blog where he writes about Altzheimer’s.)