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The Faces That Greet Me When I Wake Up: A Poem About Parkinson’s Disease

On weekdays, my clock radio turns on at 3:58 a.m. Why not 4 a.m.? Because the NPR radio station I listen to gives the local weather for New York, where I live, at 3:59, and at 4 a.m. it starts an hour of news from the BBC — way across the ocean in England. I need to know what New York’s weather is going to be, especially the pre-dawn temperature, so I can prep myself for work.

I down my first round of Parkinson’s disease drugs while sitting on the edge of my bed, then stumble with official festinating gait into the bathroom, where a community of familiar faces awaits me.

Who are they, and what’s on their mind? Let’s meet them one by one, via some acrostic poetry. (In an acrostic poem, you can read the first letter of each line to find a related word.)

photo of toilet rolls which look like eyes, and toilet lid which looks like a mouth

Tommy Toilet greets me with eyes wide

Open, and are those tear drops

Inching down his face?

Let’s plan to sleep a little

Extra this weekend, to make up for       

Time lost to insomnia.

photo of orange and blue fish decoration on wall

Floating high above the toilet bowl,

I spot friendly Fanny Fish, who    

Swam up through the pipes to say,

Howdy! Stay positive today!”

photo of faucet with hot and cold taps

Francine the Impala,

All decked out in shiny gold,

Unusual for a

Cloven-hoofed ruminant,

Exhorts me to take my drugs on schedule      

Today, tomorrow and for all eternity.

photo of a photograph showing a statue of poseidon beside the ocean, a light glare on his forehead

Pray tell, is that a bright idea

On Poseidon’s forehead, or just the

Sun shining on this Get-Up-And-

Enjoy-Yourself day! Sure, I may have an

Incurable, mind-blowing, mind-destroying

Disease, but there’s lots I can still do, and

Once I’ve figured out today’s plan of action, I’m ready for the

Next step.

This poem was originally published on the author’s blog.

All images via contributor.