Imagine, seeing a loved one’s face and feeling, as if each time you saw them, it were the first time the two of you had met. Visualize a situation where you meet someone new and they ask your name, yet no matter how much you rattle your brain; you are unable to generate an answer. Kelly Cherry’s poem “Alzheimer’s” explains just that; what one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may experience. This poem offers insight on the confusion, sadness and loneliness this disabling disease typically evokes. Cherry reinforces the characters bewilderment through the creative use of form and imagery incorporated within this poem.
Though Cherry writes this poem in open form, the form that has been created for this poem appears to be intentional build on the confusion felt by one with Alzheimer’s disease. It is noted that each line of the poem begins with a capital letter. If one reads this poem one line at a time, as if the capital letters were a new beginning for each sentence, it is noticed that a full idea cannot be formed; We are only left with disconnected thoughts, which suggests the thinking process of one suffering from this life altering condition. For example, in line nine “In England, after rain.” This single line alone has no logical meaning to it as it is not a fully developed sentence. Also, in line 27, the speaker says “Standing here in the doorway.” One is left wondering what is standing in the doorway if that line is read alone. Very rarely in this poem is one able to gather a full idea, as seen in line one “He stands in the door, a crazy old man” One is able to visualize a gentleman standing in a doorway, possibly with wrinkles body features suggestive of one who is crazy, such as an expression on his face or uncombed hair, This image cannot be formed and is left incomprehensible if one considers each line, each capital letter as a new idea.
The use of open form, within itself suggests the bewilderment felt by an Alzheimer’s patient. This poem has no rising or falling pattern of meter, nor does it possess a rhyme scheme of any kind. It is also noted that this poem is one stanza in length that consists of 29 lines, which is not suggestive of any closed form poetry style. This too appears to be intentional and reflective of the Alzheimer’s patients mind. If one focuses on this being one stanza in length it is evocative of the rambling of continuous thoughts that go through the mind of the patient without stop. Again, looking at each capital letter as the beginning of a sentence, these features together are reflective of the disconnected thoughts and hope to find connection before a thought is lost as a line break would give a longer pause for one to forget. This can also be looked at in another perspective, as if leaving out stanza breaks indicative of recent memories which have been forgotten.
Likewise, when imagery is looked at more closely, it is evident that this too illustrates the confusion one with Alzheimer’s...