Dementia Poem


My mother’s father wrote Xs

and thought they were his name.

If we guessed right, his face


like a palm, his hand steadied.

Once, I said paperwork

he nodded,                                shaking.


Something had erased from his body—

he knew that much.


First we asked questions,

then gave answers,

then named nothing

and he


couldn’t argue. We lied,          releasing him.


There were, there are

too many nothings—

Xs marking failures.

We didn’t know how to know


what it meant when he used nothing

to describe                                 nothing.


Casey Lynn Roland is writer, artist, and live entertainment born and raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts. In 2020, she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with an MFA in poetry. Her work is centered in New England and attempts to reconcile her relationship to the place she grew up, the people in it, and the ways they change over time. For updates and more, follow Casey on Instagram at @mscaseycreates.