Weekly feature by: Catherine Fahey
I mistrust my memories, the bright ones
and the gas-lit ones. I’m waiting
for my neurons to fail, my brain
to tangle. I’m waiting to forget how
to breathe, and the start of this poem.
I read a fairy tale, or think I did, about a giant
who kept his heart in egg, and could not die.
Best practice is to have an on-site and external
backup of all data, but I’m leery
of accidental custard, so I save my mind
in multiple redundancies.
My strongest memories are cast in metal.
The silver and green earrings I got at the conference,
and the gold sun-and-moon ones hold
a dream. That bracelet was made on a dare.
When I wish to forget, I follow
KonMari, and thank
the object for its service.
I sold my high school ring for scrap
because I hated those bitches, and kept
my sorority pin, even though I de-sistered:
a charm against future bitches. My mother’s
class ring sits in my jewelry box,
its onyx stone cracked, half-missing. I can’t
bring myself to wear it, look at it, destroy it,
sell it, toss it into the sea, bury it, burn it.
So I hide it away, and keep it close.
I never got a college ring, for those years
are kept in books. Tangled together,
their plots and theses jumbled into
an impression of four years. We misname
the people we love because our brains store
all important names in the same place. When I call
you Frodo, it’s not because I’m losing
my mind, think you’re a hobbit, or
love the dog more.
Everyday memories—ice cream & dances,
bike rides & red lights, my nieces’ screams,
my sister’s hair—are planted
in a field. They grow wild there,
among rosemary for remembrance &
pansies for thoughts & rue for
fuckups, all transformed, passing
from bee to bee, becoming
honey-sweet and candle-light.
The hardest memories, the ones
I can’t stop thinking about, the ones
I can’t tell my therapist, the ones
I can’t trust in my head, or outside it,
are forget-me-nots, tattooed on my hands.