Kelly Cherry's "Alzheimer's" explores the life of a man before and during the onset of his suffering from the disease. The poem begins with a tone that one could see as harsh and insensitive. This insensitivity is proven when the poet describes the man as "a crazy old man back from the hospital, his mind rattling like the suitcase, swinging from his hand that contains shaving cream, a piggy bank, a book he sometimes pretends to read" (1-5). In the beginning of the poem, he has just returned from the hospital. .
The poem suggests that, in his prime, that he was a spritely young man. He had a general zest for life that withered away as the poem continued. He enjoyed gardening and dancing with his wife. He remembers his youth as if it were yesterday (15-20). However, he can not recall the life he is currently living. The poem begins the man is just leaving the hospital. As the poem progresses, he is back in his home being taken care of by his wife. He remembers the house as his own, but has no working memory of his wife. He even remembers the car that he used to drive. He is sad because he remembers this part of himself but he can never be the person he was again. .
The poem ends with an "old, white-haired woman standing in the doorway" (27). This woman is his wife and she welcomes him in.He must decide who she is. Obviously, she cares for him because she wants to help him cope with this new life that has been forced upon him. Actually, This new life has been forced upon both of them because neither of them asked for this horrible disease. I find that there is a significance in the mention of the man's return from the hospital because it is much like a mother bringing her newborn back from the hospital. Alzheimer's disease takes away the memories and the faculties of a person and regresses them back to the point that they are like a child again. His wife must act as the mother to his child-like facade that he lives under as his regression continues.