Longlisted Poem 2012

Saskia Baylis

Sir John Leman High School, Beccles, Suffolk

To This Day: A Poem about Dementia

I remember.

I caught a bus to the seashore – to this day
I couldn’t tell you which shore, which sea, which
Sky under which I decided enough was enough
And then caught a boat to the mainland – to this day
I couldn’t tell you which boat I stood upon to
Hear the cries of the gulls, the shouts of the fishermen in the port –
To this day I couldn’t tell you which port, which fisherman
Gave me the keys to his boat, and said
Take her out, lass, she deserves a good float
I don’t remember the name of the boat, or the sea
Where I sailed in a direction – who knows which direction? –
But I felt the pull of a place beyond the horizon,
Who knows even now why I aimed for that island
Of desert and palm trees and crabs
That scuttled and cluttered and rebuked with their claws –
Though I do not remember their name, that noise
I’ll never forget, although their colour, their nature escapes me
I remember the sound of the slapping of waves
When the sky was velvet and the earth was flat
The crash of the waves when the sky was rippled
The swish-swash of the waves when the sky was the colour of the sea
The name of which escapes me – no matter
That the sail was full and the rudder was straight
Where I sailed in a direction – who knows which direction? –
But I felt the pull of a place beyond the horizon,
Who knows even now why I aimed for the cliff tops
Of wide-wings and white-wings and diving and cackling
Birds, nameless years later, only their faces
Are clear in my mind – a million faces
Of people, of families, lovers, a thousand faces of
Enemies, blurring with those of my friends
That I met when I sailed in a direction
Who knows which direction?
But I felt the pull of a place beyond the horizon,
That stretched for miles from vision to vision
To mirage in the heat, snow blind from gazing
At an expanse of mist, dew on the waters of
A country, a city, a mountain – their names like paper
In my mind; my empty mind so full of the pictures;
The pictures of parties, of beaches and barbecues
And sleeping round the fire to the
Gossiping about men, women – boy and girls
Whose names escape my tired brain,
Like wisps of sunlight through a covering of cloud.

I remember everything.
But I do not remember their names.
© Saskia Baylis

Project Details

  • Date February 13, 2015
  • Tags 2012 Voyages - Longlisted Poems