Imagine, seeing a loved one’s face and feeling, as if each time you saw them, it were the first time the two of you had met. Visualize a situation where you meet someone new and they ask your name, yet no matter how much you rattle your brain; you are unable to generate an answer. Kelly Cherry’s poem “Alzheimer’s” explains just that; what one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may experience. This poem offers insight on the confusion, sadness and loneliness this disabling disease typically evokes. Cherry reinforces the characters bewilderment through the creative use of form and imagery incorporated within this poem. Though Cherry writes this poem in open form, the form that has been created for this poem appears to be
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The use of open form, within itself suggests the bewilderment felt by an Alzheimer’s patient. This poem has no rising or falling pattern of meter, nor does it possess a rhyme scheme of any kind. It is also noted that this poem is one stanza in length that consists of 29 lines, which is not suggestive of any closed form poetry style. This too appears to be intentional and reflective of the Alzheimer’s patients mind. If one focuses on this being one stanza in length it is evocative of the rambling of continuous thoughts that go through the mind of the patient without stop. Again, looking at each capital letter as the beginning of a sentence, these features together are reflective of the disconnected thoughts and hope to find connection before a thought is lost as a line break would give a longer pause for one to forget. This can also be looked at in another perspective, as if leaving out stanza breaks indicative of recent memories which have been forgotten.
Likewise, when imagery is looked at more closely, it is evident that this too illustrates the confusion one with Alzheimer’s disease experiences. The speaker begins by saying “He stands at the door, a crazy old man/ Back from the hospital, his mind rattling/ Like the suitcase, swinging from his hand, / That contains shaving cream, a piggy bank, / A book he sometimes pretends to read, / His clothes…” The use of the verb rattling in line two helps to build on the image we have