Touch: The Journal of Healing



Pseudobulbar Affect

    by Risa Denenberg

He was eight when his mother died.

Grandpa called him my good little soldier

and he sucked it up. Brain hemispheres

began to disengage.

He was fifteen when the first girl he’d ever kissed

showed up at school wearing another guy’s Varsity

jacket. He hammed around with his buddies, smoked

grass, drank beer.  Severed connections extended

the field of irrecoverable memories.

He was thirty five when his baby girl died

in her crib and he had to be strong for his wife.

When she left him 12 months later, he refused

to wallow in self-pity. Depleted neurotransmitters

retired in a secluded lacuna.

His oldest son died in a bike crash

the year he turned fifty.  He didn’t want

to break down in front of the new wife. So

he didn’t. He couldn’t. Brain fully split.

He shed no tears at his daughter’s wedding

or when he first held his newborn grandson.

Tear duct atrophy commenced.

His grandson wheels him out to the patio

at the nursing home. Now he cries. 

© 2012 Risa Denenberg

Risa Denenberg is an aging hippy currently living in Tacoma, WA. She earns her keep as a nurse practitioner and has worked in end-of-life care for many years. She is drawn to exploring themes of suffering and death and their intersections with religion, medicine, and art. Recent poems have appeared online at Sein und WerdenThe Yale Journal of the Humanities in Medicine, YB, Lily, and Escape into Life.

Copyright © 2012

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.

Editor’s Choice