Like Water on the Brain, first appeared in the anthology Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude from Holy Cow! Press

Like Water on the Brain

For my grandfather, Eugene Hallan, 1921-2006

I was standing in the garden
when a drop of rain fell upon the back
of my neck, and a shiver shot down my spine.

And isn’t that the way our memories work?
Something jogs the senses-- a smell
or the ache for the familiar

touch of a loved one and the memory
of some event seems to fall from nowhere
into the wellsprings of the mind the way

the earthy scent of these geranium
blossoms bowing down to drink
from this dark pool forming in the mud,

which seem hardly blossoms at all
but the essence of green itself,
reminds me of a childhood trip

to Seattle to see my grandfather,
along whose home geraniums
grew in profusion, before Dementia

began to restrict the blood flow
to the realm of memory in his brain,
and oxygen tubes wormed their way

to his leaf-veined lungs the way this fallen
blossom has withered and gone gray
as a mind washed clean by darkness.