by Chase Dimock

When her dementia advanced
I brought her an old book
of Impressionist paintings.
Its arthritic spine cracked,
water damage turned a dawn into dusk,
fusing two pages of Degas ballerinas
together in an impossible dance.

She struggles to flip past
the portraits, creased paper
wrinkling young women into old age
as her fingertips search
for landscapes to wander in.

Though I want to reminisce aloud about
her holding my hand through galleries
where these paintings really hung, textured
like goosebumps in the climate controlled air,
I know she cannot converse about things
outside what she sees in the present.

The future is a hypothesis proposed
in a lab robbed of its equipment.
The past is a silent film too worn
and scratched to be projected on screen.
There is only the moment
like Monet’s countrysides
composed of glints and shadows:
the appearance of the object
without the object itself.

I wave to be seen through the fog
of her glaucoma, to refract distended
onto her lens, fingers shimmering
on her watery gaze. When her pupils
point toward me, I am lost in her landscape.
My skin dapples in sunlight through the window
diffused, formless warmth, familiar shades
of brunette seeping into the couch.

When the visit ends, I want to remain
bodiless in her acrylic garden,
imbricated in a city made of paint strokes
becoming the cobblestones and bricks
that structure her mind. I want to feel
the brush reshape me when necessary
blur me into the distance when needed,
a dot of peach anonymous in the crowd,
a flicker in the window of a cityscape,
anything, but to dry untouched
on the palette.

Chase Dimock lives in Los Angeles in a four-person household, including a human partner, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel companion, and a four-foot-tall statue of Slimer from Ghostbusters. He serves as the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be Magazine and makes his living teaching literature and writing. His debut book of poetry, Sentinel Species, came out in 2020 from Stubborn Mule Press.