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my grandmother devours
photo albums
like Tolstoy novels,
mémoire aprés mémoire aprés
mémoire.

she tells me the same story
about her first job
without a car
five times over,
looking away
to another
world,
black & white to me,
but full-color to her.

alzheimer's is a language.
like french, it is
just another part of her.
she does not remember
conversations from a week ago
or to turn over laundry,
but she remembers
bus rides in the south, pre-1964,
white weddings in
grey cathedrals
that are shopping malls now.

i have learned to translate
her repetition,
the ways she can tell
the same memory
again and again
like it is the first time.
for this, too,
is language:
the new inflections in her voice,
new details,
the tears that frequent
her glassy eyes
like uninvited guests
she lets in anyway

my grandmother's
alzheimer's
is a neologist,
changes the way
we communicate
now.

trauma is passed
through generations
like hand-me-down clothes.
c'est héréditaire.
my grandmother's tears
are my mother's tears
are mine.

she tells me
it will all be history soon,
still-frames in the movies
of our lives.

tout sera histoire.
tout sera histoire.
tout sera histoire.

mon enfant,
attend et
regarde.

"my child,
wait and
see."
l'heritage

--

is the flow maintained through verses?

is it to long or too short? do you feel as though any other images are needed?

as most english-speaking readers probably do not understand the french-- does the french add to the visual or distract from it?

--

update: this just got a DD and i'm actually crying
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Daily Deviation

Given 2017-01-22
:iconladywindflower:
LadyWindflower Featured By Owner May 12, 2017
For me, the French adds to the visual.  I don't know French, I can only guess what it means but I imagine that is what it would be like living with someone with Alzheimer's. You would have to guess what they were trying to say and fill in the words they have forgotten.

Very good job!
Reply
:iconarthisa:
Arthisa Featured By Owner May 3, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, this piece is really poignant. I absolutely love this stanza:

trauma is passed

through generations
like hand-me-down clothes.
c'est héréditaire.
my grandmother's tears
are my mother's tears
are mine.

I can't judge for non-French speakers but I feel like the French you did use is pretty recognizable. (Actually the use of "mémoire" is not quite correct in French, since it means memory as a whole, or a thesis, or an autobiographical book, and is not used for single/distinct memories. But it works well here, with the reference to Tolstoy, and as a word that English-speakers understand. In French I would have used "souvenir" but that has a different meaning in English...) (Similarly, "attends et regarde" doesn't really mean the same thing as "wait and see", although it does bring its own new meaning. For a translation I would have used "attends et tu verras".) (You might already know all these things but I feel like I should mention them anyway?)

I agree with previous comments that there's something uncomfortable about the flow in this stanza:
my grandmother's 
alzheimer's 
is a neologist,
changes the way
we communicate 
now.

Personally I think the last word is the problem. (You could maybe do without, or if you want to keep the idea of a change/break in time, you could say "has changed the way / we communicate" ?)

Anyways, amazing piece, and congratulations for the DD.
Reply
:iconpereyga:
Pereyga Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Well written and touching.
Apart from an internship in a home for old people I haven't dealt with Alzheimer so far but from what the people working there told me, speaking with the people about old time or their youth seems to evoke something in them (or that they behave in a certain way that you could somehow connect to the job they used to have or things like that).

I really like that metaphor of hand me down clothes by the way. The french confused me a bit at first though luckily I understood it so after some lines I didn't mind about the change anymore. Though I can imagine it can be more confusing if you don't understand any of it, maybe? 
Reply
:iconpineapplecoker:
Pineapplecoker Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Lovely
Reply
:iconvasilily:
vasilily Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2017
So warm and touching. Thank you.
Reply
:iconmiasmas:
Miasmas Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Touched
Reply
:iconbeautifulandbeastly:
BeautifulandBeastly Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is a beautiful piece. And I think the French adds to it (though I understood it). Even if it's not understood, it adds to the visual and also "héréditaire," "histoire," and "attend" are similar to the English counterparts anyways. 
Reply
:iconangelserum:
angelserum Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017  Student Writer
Reading this brought a few tears to my own eyes. :heart:
Reply
:iconblue-anima:
Blue-Anima Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017   General Artist
So beautiful and sensitive ❤
Reply
:iconmeubanks:
meubanks Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Congrats on the DD. This is a really strong piece. I though the imagery and flow worked well.
Reply
:iconzenertia:
Zenertia Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017  Student Filmographer
This is so sad, but beautiful at the same time... Brilliant work, and keep it up! :)
Reply
:icongoldfinching:
goldfinching Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017
This is beautiful! I like the juxtaposition of the warmth of her nostalgic memories and the bleakness of the present. The nostalgic bits are my favourite, they appear so (idk) golden in my head.

Mostly, the verses flow really well though there are a couple that aren't as perfected as the others. I'm not sure what exactly is off (sorry), but "my grandmother's alzheimer's is a neologist..." doesn't fit. I think the rhythm is different, so it stands out.

Also, I love the french (though I can understand it so I don't know how it works for everyone). Creates an interesting contrast and switches up the flow a bit. 

Overall this is absolutely incredible, my favourite line has to be "my grandmother's tears are my mother's tears are mine" There is so much beautiful imagery throughout
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:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017   General Artist
Omg thank you so much for this <3
Reply
:icongoldfinching:
goldfinching Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2017
you're welcome :D
Reply
:iconthewarofthering:
My grandmother has Alzheimer's too. I didn't see much of her after her diagnosis, though. Is this a true story?
Reply
:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017   General Artist
it is! i believe she is still undiagnosed but the signs are clear
Reply
:iconthewarofthering:
I'm glad you're getting a chance to spend time with her. I wish both of you luck.

Also, congrats on getting a DD.
Reply
:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2017   General Artist
thank you <3
Reply
:iconthewarofthering:
TheWarOfTheRing Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2017
You're welcome :)
Reply
:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
:hug: Congratulations on your DD! Well deserved. 
Reply
:iconmttoinky:
MTTOinky Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
this is beautiful. thank you so much for de-inspiring me, but inspiring me at the same time.
please keep writing~
Reply
:iconleviadraconia:
LeviaDraconia Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017  Professional General Artist
:deviantart: Congrats on the DD! :heart: :clap: :deviantart:
Reply
:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017   General Artist
thank you aaaa I'm screeching
Reply
:icontheolivethief14:
theolivethief14 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2017  Student General Artist
this is so heartbreakingly beautiful
Reply
:iconarselkie:
Arselkie Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2017
Hi :)
This is my first critique on DA, I hope it can be useful to you. English is not my native language, so maybe some of my remarks will be irrelevant...


Formal remarks


There is a little mistake in your first stanza : "aprés" should be written "après" (yes, I'm nitpicking). ^^

2nd stanza: I found it a bit "boring" at first, due to its rythm that is quite repetitive; but when I read the poem a second time, it appeared to me that this repetitivity actually fits the meaning of the poem in a rather striking way.

"like French, it is" → I keep on stumbling on this "it is". It seems a bit artificial to me, as if it was breaking the flow of the poem.

"white weddings in / grey cathedrals / that are shopping malls now."
These verses are beautiful, so nostalgic and full of emotions.

The comparison between tears and uninvited guests in the next stanza really moved me. It's a great idea, that sounds so simple and true.

The way you draw a parallele between "héréditaire" and "tears" is very interesting as well.

I must admit I found the last metaphor ("still-frames in the movies / of our lives") a bit weaker than the others - which doesn't mean it's bad, but merely that I found less impactful, less personal maybe?


Questions


1. Is the flow maintained through verses?
I think so: the poem is structured like fragments of memory, and the way the stanzas follow each other -- in their irregular, melancholic way -- reminds me of the tears you evoke in your poem, of drops falling silently.

2. Is it to long or too short? do you feel as though any other images are needed?
It's good that way, longer would probably be too much -- seem too "larmoyant", as we say in French?

3. As most english-speaking readers probably do not understand the french-- does the french add to the visual or distract from it?
I can't bring an interesting answer to your question, since it's my native language :)


Conclusion


When I began my reading, I didn't expect I'd moved, but I was. You managed to convey a lot of emotions, in a simple and personal way. I like the fact that you don't expand too much, using allusions and letting the reader guess all the things you don't say. To put it in a nutshell, I spend a really agreable time reading your poem. It's a beautiful work, keep up that way :)
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:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
:clap: Excellent job for a first critique! 
Reply
:iconarselkie:
Arselkie Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017
Why, thank you ! ♥
Reply
:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2017   General Artist
thank you so much for this! this was wonderful feedback <3
Reply
:icondoughboycafe:
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2017  Professional Writer
This is gorgeous. Really, truly, poignant and gorgeous. I haven't read something on DA quite this good at playing on human emotion for a while.

as for your questions:
1. yes, it flows very well. There were only two spots that I tripped on. this was one of them:
like french, it is
just another part of her.

It was the 'it is' part after like french, but then i'm not sure there's actually anything wrong with it, and I have no suggestion on changing it either, this is only to say i tripped on it twice.

this was the part that for me actually broke flow:
my grandmother's
alzheimer's
is a neologist,
changes the way
we communicate
now.

Though this poem is full of repetition, this is for me kind of redundant and i didn't feel it was a strong stanza, and the rest of the poem is SO strong that it compares as weak. I also think that the fact that communication has been changed was amply stated in the stanza above this one, so there isn't much reason to have this stanza in there.

But other than that, it flowed perfectly.

2. no, it's a perfect length and I can't think adding to it would be a good idea, it's already so full as it is of just the right amount of memories.

3. Please don't take out the french. It's easy enough to understand, most of that french is either common enough usage or cognate of some kind, and it's easy to understand from context. I think it's integral to the poem and gives this poem SO much more weight, and it's so beautifully threaded through the whole poem it would be a terrible shame to take it out.

Fantastically done. I can't praise this enough.
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:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2017   General Artist
Wowie wow, this is a wonderful critique. Thank you so much for the feedback, I'm absolutely beaming haha
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:icondoughboycafe:
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2017  Professional Writer
thanks for sharing it!
Reply
:icondc-26:
DC-26 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2017
I loved this because I lived it with both my grandmothers. Dementia affected them differently, but both loved repeating stories. They nearly always started at the beginning of the story, too. I think you've definitely captured something about the humanity of the disease and the human experience.
Reply
:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2017   General Artist
Thank you so much for the feedback, and for sharing your experience!
Reply
:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
First, your questions:

1. For the most part, yes. Though in some ways I feel like that may be detrimental to the story you might be able to tell with this poem (or perhaps with a poem on the same subject). The thing that I felt was missing from this piece was the jarred way in which an alzheimer's patient will suddenly enter a conversation. I'm not sure how advanced your grandmother's illness is, but I worked with alzheimer's patients for about 4 years as a caregiver and med tech. Often their conversations will begin in the middle of a memory. I distinctly remember a woman named Joan who would tell me: "Shut up, Judith! You can't be serious!" It was always the same memory she was having, of a high school friend who was telling her that the boy she liked liked her back. She'd then giggle at me and ask if her hair looked nice. I didn't realize who Judith was until her daughter was visiting one day and told me the story. But it was never triggered by the same thing. Sometimes she'd tell me to shut up while taking her medication, sometimes while helping her to the restroom, sometimes in the middle of a television program. There was no discernible reason for that memory to trigger. 

All that to say, perhaps experimenting with a more jagged flow in future iterations on the subject would be worth exploring. 

2. No. It is just right in length. 

3. I looked up the french, to be certain, but had a pretty good idea of what was being said. The nice thing about french is that it is quite similar to spanish, which I learned a bit of in high school. So I can reason out most things without having to look them up. The french additions help shape your grandmother's character in this poem. They create substance for someone who is becoming insubstantial. That's important. I think the poem would suffer without it. 

Onto some more technical notes:

Like Pepper-the-phoenix I felt some disconnect in the beginning of the third stanza. I would consider making the line "alzheimer's is a language." a stand-alone line. It is a declarative that deserves to be spaced apart from the rest of the narrative, and it would create a pause before we learn that french is part of your grandmother. Alternatively, you could use a semi-colon to connect the two thoughts. 

Another area that didn't sit well with me was this:

my grandmother's 
alzheimer's 
is a neologist,
changes the way
we communicate 
now.

I think there are too many line breaks. Or perhaps I just don't like specifying that only your grandmother's alzheimer's is a neologist. Isn't the disease by itself one? I think you could also come up with a better verb than "changes" there as well. I've seen what you can do with vocab. ;) 

Overall, I really adored this poem. Don't take my niggles to think this isn't absolutely stunning. It is unbearable to think of a loved one going through this, but you turn that into art. And that's amazing and beautiful. :heart: Thank you for sharing. 
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:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2016   General Artist
thank you so much, i appreciate the time that went into this critique omg <3 you're the best, thank you for always giving amazing insight to my poems.
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:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Always a pleasure and privilege to be able to critique such wonderful work as yours. :heart: 
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:iconpepper-the-phoenix:
Pepper-the-phoenix Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016  Professional Writer
Hi! I'm critiquing your piece for Critmas!

First, this is a very well written piece.  The flow for the most part is very good, the imagery is perfect and I think it captures the feeling and general hopelessness very well. I really like the imagery associated with the grandmother's memories. There is a warmth and color associated with her memories that isn't involved with the rest of the poem. I also love the paragraph about trauma being passed through the generations. That paragraph has a great ring and flow and the imagery is beautiful. I also love the use of French because it creates this feeling of miscommunication between the reader and the poem. It creates that barrier in a great way so the reader understands how hard it is to talk to the grandmother.

Honestly I thought it was a great poem. I only stumbled a few times because the rhythm seemed broken to me. The first time that happened was with the following part:

alzheimer's is a language.
like french, it is
just another part of her.


That period between 'language' and 'like' creates a sudden halt to the flow that kind of disrupts the reader.

The second time the rhythm was broken was with the following part:

my grandmother's
alzheimer's
is a neologist,
changes the way

There's something missing between neologist and changes I think. I'm not a hundred percent sure, but that's where the break occurs for me.

But, really, overall it's a very well written piece. Great job! ^_^
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:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016   General Artist
thank you so much this is super helpful <3 i have a couple ideas for changes just from reading this!!
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:iconpepper-the-phoenix:
Pepper-the-phoenix Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016  Professional Writer
You're welcome! And I'm glad my comments helped!
Reply
:icongentlemananachronism:
GentlemanAnachronism Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
The flow is beautiful, and the repetition within the piece mirrors well the topic. This is a beautiful poem. 
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:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016   General Artist
aa thank you so much
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:iconfeathers01:
Feathers01 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Beautiful
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:iconignotism:
ignotism Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016   General Artist
<3
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