Her mind was once a treasury
of memories and learning.
She taught classics to a generation,
knew the Romans and the Greeks,
knew each bird by name and feather
and every weed and wildflower was stored
with love and labelled in her mind,
retrievable by Latin name
or old man’s beard, forget me not,
snapdragon , cuckoo pint or thyme.
Now mental bankruptcy looms,
her mind’s vaults unlocked and leaking
like the rusting hold of a sunken ship.
Her assets stored meticulously here
have been seeping through the cracks,
and watery fumes of lost recall
tease cruelly as they float away.
She feeds the birds and squirrels,
watches black cows in the field,
sees them gently browse,
knows she loves them,
counts them daily
but forgets the word for cows.
Early casualties are words;
now she calls the nuthatch
the upside down bird