Like Nigel

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I was in the hospital
And on my wing was a woman
A woman with dementia
Who spoke loudly incessantly.

One day she got a BINGO card
And spoke the numbers over-and-over:
“Thirty-two, thirty-five, forty-seven,
Fifty-one, thirty-five, forty-seven.”

I could hear her say each one clearly,
Without hesitation, and somewhat happily.
Other times she would cry over and over, “Hellllooooooo-oh,
I’m heeerr-errrr, Hellllooooooo-oh, I’m heeerr-errrr”

As if wondering if anyone would ever join her again.
Then a nurse would say, approaching her room,
“Hellllooooooo-oh, I’m heeerr-errrr,”
This pleased her, and giggles would erupt.

At times she would yell, “NO! NO! NO!” or
“Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”
So strongly I would cry in my gurney.
Then, tonight I had a dream about her.

I could not see her, but I heard her ask
In a soft, sweet voice, “What kind of bird am I?”
Suddenly I realized she did not have dementia!
She was a bird, a beautiful, grey, black and white tern!

A beautiful bird which mates in flocks of noisy companions,
Always saying something about something,
Which none of us really understand completely,
But which mesmerizes us uniquely.

I thought of my mum, who had dementia too,
But knew she had it, demoralized she had it.
Mum was like the gannet, Nigel –
Who found an abandoned island of concrete gannets.

Nigel was home, he picked out a concrete gannet
And stayed with her day-and-night, for five years.
Nigel had met his concrete love,
Attended to her, protected her, died by her side.

Gannets are beautiful birds, my mum was beautiful too.
But, although other gannets did come to the island,
They steered clear of Nigel,
As people steered clear of mum.

I wonder if Nigel knew, like my mum knew,
That something was just not right,
Try as she might, it would never be right
And she would die by its side, in loving endearment.

Now the woman down the hall is saying, “Carrrrla,
CARLA! Carrrrla, CARLA!
I wonder who Carla is, if she is a beautiful bird,
Or, like me, a Homo sapian who loves her, but cannot