Losing Solomon by Sean Nevin
"We estimate a man by how much he remembers.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson"
Things seem to take on a sudden shimmer
before vanishing: the polished black loafers
he wore yesterday, the reason for climbing
the stairs, even the names of his own children
are swallowed like spent stars against the dark
vault of memory. Today the toaster gives up
its silver purpose in his hands, becomes a radio,
an old Philco blaring a ball game from the 40s
with Jackie Robinson squaring up to the plate.
For now, it's simple; he thinks he is young again,
maybe nineteen, alone in a kitchen. He is staring
through his own reflection in the luster and hoping
against hope that Robinson will clear the bases
with a ball knocked so far over the stadium wall
it becomes a pigeon winging up into the brilliance.
And perhaps, in one last act of alchemy,
as Jackie sails around third, he will transform
everything, even the strange and forgotten face
glaring back from the chrome, into something
familiar, something Solomon could know as his own.
"Losing Solomon" examines the many small losses, the daily subtractions and distortions of self, memory, and family suffered with dementia. It is not necessarily about, but lovingly dedicated to, my grandfather, Stephen "Snuffy" Kopec, a lifelong baseball fan. As I was writing the poem, it was his face I imagined in the toaster.
"Losing Solomon" was published in A House That Falls (Slapering Hol Press, 2005) and in Oblivio Gate (Crab Orchard Review, Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, 2008). Reprinted by permission of the writer.