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Thursday 15 May 2014

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore: Of My Mother, 92, with Alzheimer's


Bay Bridge Hills [Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, seen from near old Hills Brothers Coffee Factory on the Embarcadero]: photo by K Hardy, 14 June 2007

I hate to think she may no longer dream of me.

She lies on her couch and stares at the ceiling
like a bird. Blinks and keeps
staring. Her arthritic fingers like bird claws.
But her face also reminds me of a cat’s,
looking completely with seemingly unseeing
eyes. Then comprehending. Then
not comprehending. Her

frail, cold form, cheeks sunken, hair so usually
carefully kempt, now spreading out white and
lank and long behind her head on the
pillow, hair I’d never seen not in some
beauty shop cut, now left to
nature, oblivious to fashion. Ancient.
Crone hair. Mother, my dear affectionate
mother, a crone. But a

sweet crone. “Should I be here? Is this
where I’m supposed to be?”

Blinks. Recognizes. Loses the
There on her perch in a kind of
silvery nowhere. Who

took me downtown to the movies, by bus, later by
car, who dressed me warmly, snapping the
leather strap of my
cap under my chin, who

took me across the Bay Bridge to
San Francisco on the train (the span under the
automobile level above), and I

remember so pungently the smell of the
Hills Brother Coffee factory on the
San Francisco side, and the
coffee cup up-tilted ecstatic
Arab in yellow robe and white turban bigger than
life on the billboard. That was my

mother who took me there, who tilted her
head and smiled, and flirted, and hated her
round gray mother for flirting, and she even

now flirts on the bed, face up at me, winking,

frowning, opening eyes wide, pulling down her
mouth, then smiling that heartbreaking

mother’s smile. My

mother’s smile.


Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore: Part I, in Of My Mother, 92, with Alzheimer's (1 April 1998), from You Open a Door and It’s a Starry Night, Ecstatic Exchange, 2009

Bay Bridge #1: photo by Jim Rohan, 20 March 2014


TC said...

Those who loiter here with any frequency will be familiar by now with our friend Daniel. Also by this fine American poet:


Baseball Stadium Epiphany

BDR said...

TC said...

Thanks for that one, Jeff. I'll just oil up the grabber extension on my walker, here...

... and presto!

TC said...

Daniel, who grew up in Oakland, mentions the old transbay electric trains, which ran under the bridge span until 1961. The history is interesting. Or at least, it's the sort of thing old people find interesting. If they're me.

Key System and the March of Progress

In the second video clip, a transbay train on the old Key Route crosses the bridge; at the ten minute mark, the narrator tells us, confirming that key Proustian detail in the poem, "we're approaching the [San Francisco] Terminal, where the air is fragrant with the smell of spice and coffee..."

The image of the Arab on the Hills Brothers coffee can (and brand logo, adverts & c) also figures in this poem. But something wouldn't allow me to use it. Dunno, perhaps, again, history.

Or maybe the memory of visiting Islamic architectural sites as a young person, and being struck, amid the silence of exaltation, by the absence of images depicting living creatures. Maybe some things ought to be allowed to remain sacred.

And to my mind Daniel is a religious poet, of the Faith of Life.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

"There on her perch in a kind of
silvery nowhere. Who"--

I think this says it all. BTW, a very fine poem.

TC said...

Yes, those are the lines that lift the poem off the ground and transport it into another atmosphere, magic carpet-style. In them is compacted the genius of this poem and this poet.

Mose23 said...

Very beautiful.