Tangles

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I “Turn him to any cause of policy,

The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,

Familiar as his garter” (ShakespeareHenry V, Act 1 Scene 1. 45–47)

 

Tangles*

She goes most any where she used to go,

with help and  planning, going slow,

and can do most things she used to do

but very little that’s really new.

 

She blindly watches TV ‘breaking news‘,

where talking heads spew tired words and views;

yet walks with help  at ninety three,

as lone and lonely as old age can be

 

who loses loved ones almost every day,

whose loyal  foes have even  gone away

to that mausoleum in the mind,

invisible, unknown and undefined.

 

The history she lived- redacted- gone,

her universal truths now considered wrong,

she’s wantonly outlived her life;

and none else recalls its joys or strife.

 

She searches neuronal tangled time

for some meaning in the  paradigm

that she lives on  here, on and on

after shared memory is  long gone.  

 

She vainly queries her  past to find

Why loved ones leave, but leave her behind;

Asks aloud a question no one hears:

  “Why do I live so far beyond my years?”

 

But her old cat curls and purrs, and then

that oral history student comes again

about an Occam’s Razor essay;

Or the Gordian Knot? – she cannot say.

 

The  visit fills her shadowed room with light

like sunrise in the middle of the night;

The young know light’s speed’s so  fast

it untangles the  future from the past.  

 

 

*The title refers to tangled neurofibrils sometimes seen in the brain in very advanced age. The poem is about a very old woman in a nursing or rest home affected, perhaps, by such tangles. Occam’s razor refers to a problem-solving principle attributed to  William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), It can be stated as Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. The Gordian Knot is a legend of Phrygian King Gordium . It is often used as a metaphor  for solving an intractable problem (disentangling an “impossible” knot) by “cutting the Gordian knot”):

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