As I gazed at the day room
the head nurse shuffled through,
checking pulses and giving orders.
The carpenter slid along the walls
tap, tap, tapping for unseen studs.
The Wall Street broker yelled
into resident phones sell, sell, sell!
Slippery layers cradled within the skull
nestle gently against one another.
Whirls and folds contain the essence
of humanity, a seemingly random
jumble of gray flesh that is in fact
the backlit cosmos of each person,
unknown and unknowable beyond
outer myelinated mannerisms,
remembrance in repeated motion.
Tendrils of dementia infiltrate layers
like wood smoke on a cloudy night,
extinguish the memory of a child’s name,
a lover’s face, ember by glowing ember,
gone, but for the tap, tap, tapping,
the sell, sell, selling,
and the gentle, cool fingers
placed on the wrists
of other ghosting, fleshly shells.