Temporary Nominal Aphasia

Temporary Nominal Aphasia
is what they call it  –  you know that thing
where your mind sticks, can’t think
of the actor in that film What’s-its-Name.
An hour later, apropos of nothing –
you’re pulling radishes – “Al Pacino
in ‘Donnie Brasco’” – out it pops.
It’s natural the doctors tell us:
part of the body slowing up
like thinning hair, thickening sight,
getting your children’s names mixed up.
Between the question and the buzzer falls
the silence, synapse firing off too late.
The wife and I both have it.
Sometimes we enact this conversation
hands flapping at each other’s gaps
like a Cloze test or game of shuttlecock:
“You remember that place we used to…”
“Yes.  And where we…”  It’ll get worse,
more permanent.   Top of the stairs
wondering what it was I came up for
I make, forget, a note to keep more lists.
Later collecting Thingummy my wife
from the nursing home where she works –
those white faces at the window
as on the deck of a liner moving off –
she tells of Lydia who every day forgets
her husband’s dead.  “Where’s John?” she asks.
Each day you have to break the news.
Words fail.  But always the grief –
the sense of loss – cries out afresh.