At the Strike of the Stroke

by Anne Howe

Yesterday he was in Hong Kong
Today he’s under arrest
And stressed as he sees others
Go their way
Where he ventures not
On the outside.

Where is the mind that once
Was sharp as a tack
And quick in response
The love remains but
How much does he really know
Of the ones he spent his life
Bringing to where they are today.

The face is the same
The stance
The shuffle has even become a stride
But as he goes from here to there
Does he really know
Just where he is.

He asks if his parents know
That he is there
The bump on the head
Confusion reigns
Now 86 his parents are
Long since gone

Life, what is it
But a fine line
Between here and there
And what of there?
Sometimes calm
Many times a battle with confusion

With a tick of the clock
And the strike of a stroke
All is changed
Except the body of a man
We call Father.


Author's Note: Dedicated to my father-in-law whose mind left us when the stroke struck

Posted on 07/09/2006
Copyright © 2020 Anne Howe

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by JD Clay on 07/11/06 at 03:00 AM

This is a true to form realism that plagues many families. Your account is an emotionally charged piece and resonates well beyond the poem itself. Good stuff, Anne.

Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 07/15/06 at 04:31 AM

Hi Ann. Wonderful tribute. Your final stanza is a terrific close. Well done. IMHO!

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 07/15/06 at 08:21 PM

"Life, what is it, but a fine line between here and there" - this is a fine, fine write about what strokes can do. Very touching. "With the tick of a clock, and the strike of a stroke" - excellent description of the instant life changes for everyone in this person's life.

Posted by Charles E Minshall on 07/16/06 at 12:00 AM

Sad time of life Anne. Well done telling about it...Charlie

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 07/16/06 at 01:22 PM

Hard hitting reality check that in its clear expression reminds others like myself of what has occured and lies ahead for our own similarly striken loved ones. My father has suffered mini-strokes, and although still coherent, can no longer drive, talks with a slur, and has trouble walking.

Posted by Charles M Harrison on 08/04/06 at 09:59 AM

I can't imagine how difficult this would be. To see only the shell each day of someone you hold so dear. Blessings to you and yours.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 12/29/09 at 09:14 PM

I'm glad to see this as POTD!

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