Vijay Seshadri

Nursing Home
September 1, 2012 Seshadri Vijay

Nursing Home



She had dreams fifty years ago
she remembers on this day.
She dreamed about Bombay.
It looked like Rio.
She dreamed about Rio,

which looked like itself, though
Rio was a city she’d never seen—
not on TV, not in a magazine.
Brain scans done on her show

her perisylvian pathways and declivities
choked by cities,
microscopic mercurial cities
made from her memories,

good and bad,
from the things she saw but didn’t see,
from the remembered pressure
of every lover she ever had.

Unexpected useful combinations between cognitive psychology and neuroscience have fostered new observational protocols not only for elderly patients in the Lewy body pathologic subgroup but those discovered across a wide spectrum of dementias and dementia-induced phenomena, including but not limited to Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), classical Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and the deformations in mental recognition and function (Dear, eat the soup with the spoon, not the fork), the coruscating visions (Who is that laid out in my bed?), the spontaneous motor features of Parkinsonism. Synaptic patterns embodied in sparks, showers, electrical cascades, waterfalls, and shooting stars are increasingly revealing an etiology proximately to be fully established and suggestive links between processes strictly biochemical and ideational and linguistic explosions for which documentation has been massive while analysis has, so far, been scant. While an adequate conceptual apparatus still remains out of reach, progress across a broad frontier of research has been sufficiently dramatic to suggest possible developments that will lead both to therapeutic remedies for distressed elderly patients and to a synthesis among various disciplines that have heretofore seemed not just incompatible but in direct conflict with one another. Certain coherencies have been unearthed that have truly startled our consensus . . .



—She doesn’t know any better than to act the fool.

—Is she dead? No, she’s not dead.

—Is she dead?

—No, I’m not dead, and I don’t want anybody to think I’m dead.

—Do you think it’s funny?

—Wonder why she acts like that?

—Is she dead? No, she’s not dead, and I’m not dead, neither.

—Is she really dead? No, she’s not dead, but she’s acting the fool.

—Are you really dead? No, I’m not really dead. I’m just acting the fool.

—I’ll show you how I can act the fool.

—No, I don’t think I look nice. I think I look purty.

—No, I’m not dead. I just act like I’m dead.

—What makes you want to act like she’s dead?

—Do you think she’s dead?

—Do you think she’s dead, or is she just acting the fool?

Vijay Seshadri’s collections of poems include James Laughlin Award winner The Long Meadow, Wild Kingdom, The Disappearances (New and Selected Poems; Harper-Collins India), and 3 Sections (Fall, 2013). His work has been widely published and recognized with a number of honors. The translations here are of selected couplets from two of the most famous ghazals of Momin and Ghalib. Seshadri  teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives in Brooklyn.