In this passionate second book of poems, Eileen P. Kennedy explores the dynamic between partners as Alzheimers disease progresses. Kennedy weaves the collection about the relationship in three sections: before, during and after the death.
In the first section, Kennedy positions her life and her lovers in the events happening concurrently in the decade they are together. She examines the early loving relationship, her lovers brilliance, and the beginning of the decline in both America and Latin America.
"Feel me with your hands until words are not needed...Touch my head softly till this long night is over." Or their happy lives traveling. "When I think of Oaxaca/I remember the Zocalo where they sold pipa del agua/ and chocolate dripping from paper cups." Kennedy pays tribute to the writers she loves Where the ghost of D.H. Lawrence /wrote in the park about Zapotec mornings. / Where you read him aloud to me there."
In the second section, Kennedy studies, with eloquence and skill, the deterioration and death of her partner, "Your flailing and shouting has stopped/ The accusations too/ I am at your side/ When you dont know me at all." Or "I wheel you to the solarium, / gurney with saline attached./ Time slows/ as I read to you One Hundred Years of Solitude." Her sense of loss as he fades "There are many places/ that feel you gone/ vacant coat pegs..."
In the last section, she chronicles her life in anguish and redemption after her lovers death. "On warm days, I remember the way we made love in the afternoon, your hair straggling/ out of its ponytail. I dreamt you were ninety, and sleeping beside me, your strong/
features still recognizable." She writes a cento from poets such as Emily Dickinson and T.S. Eliot about memory, to turn her sorrow over to the world and finishes with a year of grief and recovery at home and in Latin America.
An intense and uplifting collection, Kennedy acknowledges the difficulty of being close to someone with a rapidly failing mind in "Vespers," and "Six Months After." She describes the struggle with pharmaceuticals in "Medicated." and "Snow Village in a Bottle."
Kennedy imbues a strong sense of place in her poems from the two places she lives, from the Northeast United States, "The day of your cremation the seagulls swooped/down and ate the berries you planted by the saltbush. From Latin America "Here, early sunset settles/on searing afternoon./ January slides to soft orange, mourning the heat that goes."
Touch My Head Softly contains some award-winning poems. "Dream of my Lover" won Second Prize in the Penumbra Haik Poetry Contest. "Eulogy for the Costa Rican Ghosts," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Poems from this collection were also published in Muse and Stone, Tribeca Poetry Review and Seven Hills Review. Kennedys first book of poetry, Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015, ) was awarded Second Place for Poetry in the Wordwrite Book Awards and Honorable Mention from the New England, New York and London Book Festivals.
This powerful collection is dedicated to people living with Alzheimers, their caretakers and families. Part of the proceeds for the sale of the book will go to the Alzheimers Association.
Author: Eileen P Kennedy Language: EnglishBinding: PaperbackPages: 46Publisher: Finishing Line PressPublication Date: 2021-01-29