Even if residents wanted nothing to do with me,
even if they despised me coming into their rooms,
cheery and chatting away about my new poetry program
in the activity area, even with responses such as:
“I don’t write. Never have, never will.”
“Will you please close those drapes, it’s too bright in here.”
“What do you mean, I hate poetry. We had to learn it in school and it was terrible.”
“You know I can’t even hold a pen anymore, Amy.”
Then, I would make my final offering:
“Well, even if you don’t participate, there will be coffee available.”
Every week, my stubborn participants wheeled themselves down the long halls
to our gathering, where I wrote out comments from our conversations,
turning memories into poems, dementia or not, laughter
sneaking its way into the heart of a building where residents
know they will most likely never leave.
I gave each of them a green plastic cup of coffee
while we talked, an offering for their bravery to trust me with their stories.
They held those cups like an afternoon on a porch somewhere,
sitting outside in the sun like they once did, bringing back what they thought was lost.