Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poem In Your Post: Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
                                                    - by Billy Collins

Here's to a long, slow, gentle letting go until all that remains are the things, sans words.

A variant on William Carlos Williams's, "No ideas but in things"?

What poem caught your eye today?  Or this week?  Share it in your post or share it in the comments below. 

If you do link here, please give us a shout-out in your post so more folks will join in the sharing of poems.

May you create a glorious weekend worth remembering, even when all your words melt away.


1 comment:

parrish lantern said...

My Mother's Perfume - Pascale Petit

Strange how her perfume used to arrive long before she did,
a jade cloud that sent me hurrying
first to the loo, then to an upstairs window to watch for her taxi.
I’d prepare myself
by trying to remember her face, without feeling afraid. As she drew
nearer I’d get braver
until her scent got so strong I could taste the coins in the bottom
of her handbag.
And here I am forty years on, still half-expecting her. Though now
I just have to open
the stopper of an expensive French bottle, daring only a whiff of
which Jacques Guerlain created from the vanilla orchid vine.
Her ghostly face
might shiver like Christ’s on Veronica's veil – a green-gold blossom
that sends me back
to the first day of the school holidays, the way I used to practise
kissing her cheek
by kissing the glass. My eyes scanned the long road for a speck
while the air turned amber.
Even now, the scent of vanilla stings like a cane. But I can also smell
roses and jasmine
in the bottle’s top notes, my legs wading through the fragrant path,
to the gloved hand emerging
from a black taxi at the gate of Grandmother’s garden. And for a
moment I think I am safe.
Then Maman turns to me with a smile like a dropped
perfume bottle, her essence spilt.

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