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Flynn, L. (2012). My Father's Language. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 6(3):227.

(2012). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 6(3):227

My Father's Language

Leontia Flynn

When my father sits in the straight-backed leather chair

the room contains him as my head contains this thought

of him. As though, in the gathering darkness,

made safe by the position of a rug or lamp,

he is not being lost to shadows and incoherence.

As though he is not being lost to the drift of age.

Alzheimer's—slow accumulation of losses.

First, memory: the near shore of my father's life,

licked by the wavelets, starts to grow faint and vague.

Next it is swept clear by the escaping tide.

First memory, then language. What process of attrition

(“tangles”, the text books answer, “fatty plaques”)

sees him revert to a spoken Anglo-Saxon?

His language rattles in its dearth of nouns.

Everything is a “thing”. “Where is the thing for the thing?”

“Where is the thing? The thing, you know, the thing?”

(In this bone-dry wasteland where the nouns have died

“daughter” might sometimes be confused with “wife”.)

I say: “The thing's not lost. No. Take this thing.

Here is the thing. The thing—Daddy—take this thing”.

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