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The poem is a witness after a visit to a Dementia Care Home just before Christmas.
It has tried to capture some of the confused thoughts and retained memories that seem to pervade such places.

...and so this is Christmas

7fd524ece5de19f6c9837eca4dd72b56by Rick Taylor28 Dec 2013

‘Is it me,’ she cries, ‘or the spirit of the tree,
hanging from a frosted branch and smiling back at me.’

Mrs. Jones stands before the tree,
staring at a bauble with a glowing face,
reflected back as memory through time and place.
A hand gently brushes wisps of dead yellow hair.
‘Now Mrs. Jones, we want to look our best, don’t we?
For a visit from your son and your loving family.’
But Mrs. Jones sees another face.
A child with shining eyes, crowned with a swathe of golden hair.
The child steps back apace and sees...
a quilted patchwork of frosted light, shimmering red, silver bright.
‘Now Jen,’ her Mother says,
‘you need to look neat for your special Christmas treat.’
Mrs. Jones is taken up in the lift and turning to her carer, says.
‘I shouldn’t have done it, should I you see?
If I’d been good he would have stayed with me.’
She remembers her own kids squeals of delight
at the secrets wrapped and labeled with love.
Ripped open with an abundance of joy,
revealing each magical book or toy –

as the lift doors open to a Christmas hymn,
sung by kids from a local school.
The carer says ‘No need to worry about that luv.
It’s Christmas, you just come sit with Ed,’
as she guides her over to an easy chair.
The old lady sits and in her minds eye sees...

an empty nest, her children flown,
her husband moved to pastures new.
‘Look Jen,‘ her husband had said.
‘Why’d yer do it, you shouldn’t ha yer know. It just wern right.’
And so she sits alone in a world turned cold
and stares at the tree through a gauze of tears.
‘This isn’t how I thought it would be,’ she says.
‘Just me alone and the Christmas Tree.’
Ed sits with his trousers rolled halfway up what used to be legs – just sticks of bones and parchment thin flesh.
‘He’s one of the lucky ones I guess,’ the carer says.
‘Ninety eight and still going strong.
A champion tennis ace in his day
and lived his whole life in a healthy way.’
Ed sits with unseeing eyes
staring at some vision far ahead,
with a dribble of drool trickling down his chin
from jagged cracked lips from a mouth once kissed.
Mrs. Jones stands up slowly looking perplexed. 

‘When will you take me home,’ she says...
‘My Mother is waiting you see –
I should be home by now for my tea.’
The Christmas tree in the corner is shining bright.
Catching her eye Mrs. Jones turns – moves close.
Seeing a face in an orb of light, she says...

‘Is it me, or the spirit of the tree,
standing there blankly and scowling back at me.’