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Photo: TracyRittmueller.com

Poet Tracy Rittmueller is a friend I connected with through blogging. We almost met in person when she was living in Rhode Island, but she moved home to Minnesota after her husband developed a mild cognitive impairment that is associated with non-Alzheimer dementia.

I’m telling you that so you will understand the origins of her resonant poem about a broken cup. It seems to start with her husband’s impairment and spread outward into other lives and ways of understanding. Here it is in part.

What Is There About Us Always
by Tracy Rittmueller

“You gave me a teacup, terra-cotta inside, outside
sun-washed like some villas in Italy.
“It pleased me, as it pleases me when
every morning you wake early
“to prepare my tea, even now when you cannot remember
the day, washing dishes I knocked my teacup
“against the faucet. My teacup. I gathered
ochre shards, trashed them on the day’s spent tea
“leaves, said nothing. Finding those fragments
you spoke one word. Oh. Rinsed them,
“dried them, glued them together. …

“Sometimes I worry your tenuous
“memory will fracture our companionship.
But I know who you are, always the one
“who salvaged those wrecked remnants—
my heart—to restore that broken vessel—me.”

Read the whole poem here.

About her life these days, Tracy writes, “I am greatly supported by a monastery of Benedictine women, who have basically adopted us. They have over 200 Sisters, whose average age is 83. They have so much experience with this, and model for me how to care for [him] with compassion and respect, while making sure I’m not sacrificing my health or my life to do it. Plus, they all understand what’s happening with him, and very skillfully befriend him so that I’m not his sole sense of safety and love in this world. We’re content and live together with a great amount of love and serenity, and I’m very, very grateful. …

“I’m clearing every unnecessary thing out of my life, a process that I’m still going through, moving toward an ever more simple and quiet life, because that’s what suits my personality, temperament, and my physical/mental/spiritual health needs. I suppose from the outside it might look like I’ve gone hermit, but I am richly supported by the Sisters and associates circling around the monastery, where I find more intelligent, kind, wise, eccentric-interesting, and helpful people than I can keep up with, and by my community of weirdly wonderful poet-friends. And, as this pandemic is teaching us, there are myriad ways to connect without leaving one’s house.”

Read one of Tracy’s recent articles on poetry. You might also like to check out a blog post she wrote at GoodReads.

Photo: Spinningpots.com

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