2 poems in a Pacific Review Annual Review journal, Atlantis and other lost place
Things I Don’t Remember
I forget to take clothes out of the dryer, dishes out of the dishwasher, the garbage out to the curb. Anniversaries and birthdays too, even my own.
I forget people’s names. Celebrities, especially. Who was that person who starred in that movie, you know, the one about …
I forget to call back, to return emails, but never to send thank yous. My mother taught me well.
I forget what it’s like to hold a baby, to nestle her in the crook of my arm, to smell her milky breath. I forget what it’s like to run reckless, wild, to be utterly, completely unafraid. I know fear now, but it usually doesn’t stop me. Comfort zones are a bore.
I forget the meanings for the King of Cups, the placements in the 10-card Tarot spread. I’ll never forget the Tower, though, the toppling of life as we know it.
I forget how to read a map, how to read a book of prayer, how to read a stranger’s face—I blame facemasks, you know.
I don’t want to forget my father’s voice, my husband’s smile, that I love someone even when I’m angry.
I forget where I put my damn glasses, where I put my drink, my keys, my phone.
I forget to turn right on the block to my house while I’m singing along with the radio—windows down. I forget to shut those windows before the storm.
I forget the smell of gardenias when it’s winter, the taste of snow in the spring.
I pretend to forget that I’m growing old, that there’s less of life in front than behind.
I rarely forget appointments with students. I once rang Olivia P.’s doorbell when I was expected by Olivia H.
I wish I could forget the time I threw a half-eaten carton of chicken fried rice at my teen-aged son; when I was no-showed at a dear friend’s surprise party; stared down Lucy Martin in fifth grade.
I never forget how the scale scolds me in the morning.
I forget too many things. Moments slip beyond my reach. “Weren’t you listening, Mom?” my kids ask.
Scales are not the only ones who scold.
I remember to brush my teeth but not always to moisturize. I remember soft skin, soft kisses, soft nights, snuggling my love under warm blankets, cuddling my children when they were small. Were they ever really that small?
Only when we pile into the car
do we feel ground beneath our feet.
Mornings we drive up I-87
fast then faster. We pray
for the roadkill. Mangled racoons.
The odd bone-stiff deer. We pray
they hadn’t suffered though their
bodies scream they had. We listen
to limbs, to vultures circling
vultures. How many blades
of grass. Kingston. Catskill. The exits,
half-hours apart. How many trees stand
guard by the side of the road. Un-
grounded, we know one thing: only
God can count that high. The kids
and I ride this new year
on the thruway. Say fuck you
to that God
who’d taken our love on
the road last fall. We drive,
drive and drive and drive. We drive.
And we live. And we pray
for the roadkill. And feel immortal.
It’s them, not
mangled by the side of the road.