The Day the Butterfly Sang

Ben Rhee’21 thoughtfully writes from the viewpoint of a person with Alzheimer’s undergoing mental regression. The poem illustrates the special challenges that dementia patients face and the need to take extra considerations and specialized care for this population in an already crowded patient field.

The body went first,
And now my mind
As I lay there, wishing I were with the butterfly outside
The only constant part is the straw that feeds me
Its pink ooze forced down my throat, day in and day out

Family comes, but family also goes
And sometimes non-family comes but they are family too
Once again, the pink ooze, the bane of my fragment existence
Accompanies any visit, even when I just want to sleep

A boy once came, unlike the others that usually come
He was there, but then he was not
I wish I could say more to him, but he did not share my mother tongue
And when I really wanted the company, he vanished into the wind,
Never to be seen again

The mind slips as the body goes
My sicknesses ail me daily, hounding my joints, my peace of mind
Sometimes I dream to escape this reality, but the best times
Come when the butterfly outside the window comes around
Singing to me, beckoning me to the good old days

Today, the body slips as the mind goes
Yesterday became tomorrow, while today became yesterday
The monotony of my days punctured only by the pink ooze
That I am forced into a mutual deal with

The next time the butterfly comes around
I will not be shy anymore, I will sing to it as well
For it has secrets that it wishes to share, and I have memories
That I want to share
To remember
To cherish
Before the darkness takes over completely

This will all come to a beautiful end
The day the butterfly sings

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