The Memory Unit

by Elouise

The Memory Unit gathers –

A motley congregation
faces the long, high pulpit and
double-locked entrance.
Weary attendants gather behind
the pulpit busy with paperwork
and a phone that never rings
for these lost sheep.

Women and men in varied
stages of present non-presence
watch and wait for what will not
arrive today or tomorrow.
In various stages and styles
of dress and distress they sit
on chairs or in wheelchairs or
lie strapped on trolleys to
avoid inconvenience or upset.
Some moan or shout while others
eerily silent stare and a few
bright-faced parishioners knowingly
greet everyone and no one passing by.

Silent or babbling, singing or shouting
repetitive statements and vociferous
objections to no one and everyone
in particular the congregation of
expectant supplicants searches
not for lost sheep or a shepherd
but for themselves and worlds
they can never re-enter even if
they come through the locked door
caring for and loving them as they are
if only for this passing moment.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 April 2018
Poem based on my memory of a visit several years ago to a Memory Unit in Philadelphia
Photo taken by Maja Daniels in a Memory Unit in France; found on