NaPoWriMo Day Fourteen

Taken By Shadows

This thing carved you out of yourself bit by bit,

shaking us from your mind like loose change

to spin and skitter away from the person we knew.

And when it crept up on us and we had to admit,

that perhaps you were acting somewhat strange,

but it was already too late to bring you back.

There was this stranger, this woman instead of you,

and somewhere behind us you’d slipped through the cracks.


A San-san for NaPoWriMo Day Fourteen and also for the Open Link night at the DVerse Poets Pub.

For those of you who haven’t seen the tag ‘sharetheorange’ on twitter, Christopher Eccleston has taken part in a video for Alzheimer’s UK to raise awareness of what the disease actually does to the people who suffer from it.

It’s not an easy topic to talk about, and as someone who has a family member with Alzheimer’s, talking about it reminds me of how hard I try to ignore the effects it has had on my family and I.

You can see my post about my Grandmother and the impact her illness had here. She is the person behind today’s poem but she is also the inspiration behind a lot of my determination in life. Before her illness she pushed me to be the best I could be.

I suppose in some ways, she is in all of my poetry.



  1. this poem is too beautiful for words. it’s honest, and raw, and so real, and i love that. so much. i’m so sorry for what you and your family have to go through. what an incredibly moving and touching piece. i have to admit – i didn’t notice the rhymes until the very end, which i think is marvelous. everything felt so natural, so smooth, so flowing, and the words fit with the idea. well done.


    1. Thank you. I’m glad the rhyme worked well, I always worry about using rhyme as it can so easily sound forced.
      And thank you for your sympathy. I sort of feel bad talking about it because I’m not the only one affected and my family tends to be very private. I want to do my bit to help raise awareness though. I can’t help my grandmother but maybe I can help others.


      1. oh, i relate to that so hard. rhyme for me is always touch and go because i’m always afraid of sacrificing the integrity of a poem for the sake of form.

        you are very welcome! i hope this isn’t too presumptuous, but i feel like vocalizing your struggle is healthy, and if you can find some meaning in your troubles, you should absolutely do so. pain isn’t a contest and acknowledging how it affects you doesn’t deny others the right to expressing how they’re affected to. in fact, it may even encourage them, which is another good thing! just, wonderful job with all of this poem. your honesty is inspiring.


          1. no, i just watched it though! what a simple illustration of the devastating effects of alzheimers. it’s very thought-provoking.


            1. It is. I’ve watched a few times over and can’t quite get over how perfect it is. It’s quite comforting in a way as well. It sort of validates dementia as an illness rather than a process of ageing.


              1. oh yes, validation is incredibly comforting. as someone with a mental disorder, i know how frustrating and discouraging it can be when people are just like, “it’s all in your head!! it’s just normal!!!! you’re fine!!!”


    1. I am sorry Bjorn, it’s a terrible thing to have to watch. I know it’s hit my father and his sibling’s very hard. They wanted to take care of her themselves but found in the end that just wasn’t possible without almost destroying themselves in the process.


  2. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thief that takes from everyone and everything it touches. Like with most chronic illnesses, it is heartbreaking to see how things slip away from our hands–the afflicted lose themselves, the family loses them, and sometimes each other…

    I believe in poetizing our pain. Not only because it helps us, but also because in the sharing of awareness, we should each other that we are not alone.

    Your use of metaphor is very effective here. I see those coins scattering all over the place… and I see hands picking them up, just to find out that they don’t recognize them. ♥


    1. Thank you. I rewrote those lines quite a few times before settling on that final form. The idea of coins spilling out sort of stuck with me.
      It’s also wonderful to hear such supportive comments like yours. Thank you.


  3. I wasn’t sure what was happening until near the end, which sort of built up suspense. The loose change faling is an exquisite image. I feel moved to find the movie of which you speak.


  4. This hits me deep. I’m especially drawn to the first two lines. Thank you for writing this.

    And I’m so sorry about your grandma. 😦


  5. And, I think you know, my mother. Your poem shows you have witnessed, experienced this. So many of us have. The “you” slipping through the cracks–an apt description.


  6. Oh how this makes my heart ache – for you and your family, for me and mine, fall who have to see this happening to the one they love. Another friend of mine calls it being swallowed by the mist. This is such an honest and sad write


  7. I loved the first line– “This thing carved you out of yourself…” What a visceral description of Alzheimers. Thank you for sharing this very personal and universal piece.


  8. dear Carol, this is beautiful.
    In truth, I think your grandmother is still pushing you to be the best you can be.

    Sadly, the silliness we sometimes see, can turn to the feared, the unimaginable, and then the undeniable — and that is part of this dreadful disease.


  9. Really lovely poem Carol and yes, one I can relate to having watched my Nanna suffer. Apparently we all need to dance – it’s the best exercise to beat the disease. Perhaps while we dance, we might produce our best poetry yet! Anna x


  10. This is sad but Alzheimer’s is a sad disease robbing us of our very souls. My roommate’s mother had it and we had to put her in a home finally. It’s something we all fear as we grow older.


  11. A few of my friends have had to see their mothers recently lapse into this, so it has a ring of authenticity about it.
    The image of shaking us away from your mind like loose change is very powerful indeed – a sort of centrifugal spin which I can imagine all too well.


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