Chocolate Explanations

“Right...! ”
I try to explain it
with chocolates
that she(girlishly)
keeps trying to eat.

I pick a luscious
dark chocolate seahorse
And I say “Now this is...”
(and she finishes my sentence for me)

“...your hippocampus! ”
She squeals... delighted with herself.
“That’s correct! ”
I praise her
“’s shaped like this seahorse! ”

“And it controls
your memories of you
your “who you are”

your “how your self assembles
its sense of self
...with all its past and future mysteries! ”

“Yes...yes...that’s it!
She claps her hands
thrilled to bits

by the familiar telling
the reassurance of sounds.
And this twisted twirl of almond
with a real almond in the centre of it
“... is your amygdala! ”
She blurts out before me.
“You got it”
I smile.

“Everyone’s got one!
a seahorse & an almond
one on each side of our brain.”

“Now the almond tells you how
to respond to the things
that you’ve assembled
into a sense of self

...with the proper emotion
...the right feeling.
...whether you just like
or love it”

“Oh, I love it...I love it! ”
She almost sings.
“Now, explain it to me again! ”
I give her the finished explanations
and she eats them

with much exaggerated
mmmmming & ohhhhhing.
“I love your explanations
about what’s wrong with my thingy”
She knocks upon her head
like it was a door
to a self that she had
locked herself outside of.

Most times
she doesn’t even know
her name
or who
or what
she is.
But she loves this story of

She loves
each sound
each word
each letter
each pause
of the chocolate

by Dónall Dempsey

Comments (1)

What a tender lovely loving poem about mental health and how fragile we all are and how 'our self' can get switched off by injury or old age. You bring the lady to life and we can almost feel her delight in the story of her condition told in...chocolates of all things! It is very sad to find out that it is a just bunch of sounds to her and she loves the repetition and the colour of the words. She is just like a child demanding a fairy story with all the words in the right places. A lovely poem and a sad one too. Gina xx