based on the essay, “The Hardest Letter to Write” by Parker Gyokeres,
from Operation Homecoming, an anthology edited by Andrew Carroll.
Somewhere I left myself behind.
Where am I?
Who am I?
I want that part of me to return.
A husk is all that is left of me, infected inside.
Leaving behind family;
Leaving behind beautiful, loving memories.
I am not a person, but a stump.
A casualty of memory lost.
“You will forget your family” I was told.
And I did.
There is a brutal terror in my world
when the street is full of people passing by,
do I know them?
I was a fun loving person, I am told.
I think that person left and never came back.
Author’s Note: The original piece “The Hardest Letter to Write” is a soldier’s reflection of his time spent in Iraq. The letter is a series of recollections of his relationships with others. He encounters bravery, faith, and emotional lobotomization through the lens of living and working with other soldiers and civilians. His story is very real, as are the deeper struggles he and those he detailed have to face: the danger of the unknown, the distress of being away from home, the personality changes that can make you a stranger to those who know you. These echoed to me of the struggles that men and women living with Alzheimer’s face every day. These men and women have lost their home in a very real sense, and in moments of lucidity are able to understand how very much that is. This found poem was written for these men and women.
Currently a fourth year student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Abby Tiffany wrote this Found Poem as an assignment for her Garbage Archaeology class.