Essay on Memory

More and more now I am prone to forget.

and words drift by me like a river, with all its flotsam and its jetsam,

flowing like it will never ever be the same.

I search amongst the ripples

for molecules of a similar nature

But they are, each and every one of them, startlingly different.

Curiosity, though, has not yet decayed:

History, science in general, the universe

in particular, holds my interest.

Yesterday I listened to a tape, a professorial

declamation of American history encompassing

the era from the death of Lincoln to the First World War.

Phrases, incidents, aphorisms remain in memory

The names, however, have dissipated;

a kind of disjunction has occurred,

particulate ideas like galaxies that have shifted into the red

What does one know? The sharp edge becomes blurred,

then proceeds, via majolica and opalescence, to an invisible sheen.

One must wonder if the process, once set in motion,

has become irreversible. Thus one may walk

into a room, and then,

not really knowing why you are there

turn, and walk out again

Without a thought. A ghostly encounter,

a passage of seasons, a reversal of the magnetic poles.


You must first remember

before you forget

There was some arcane syndrome whose victims

must need start each day

as though it were their first: Names, faces, addresses

wiped clean. Thus the stresses of each afternoon

become again pure, white ( the serenity of the fetal mind )

Each experience is newly felt

Each sin is “original”

Each rose is an infant’s delight.

What is most cruel, therefore, is to know

that these flowers will not merely fade

but will be erased, that in each day’s light

a new life must recommence.

Remembering and forgetting, forgetting and remembering.

They are the twins: Castor and Pollox,

the Corsican Brothers, intertwined, interdependent

forever competing; like a balance beam

one is not able to exist without the other.


For hours I sit

reading the dictionary: searching

for the definitions of words that I knew when I was younger

and though I think I ought to be fearful

it gives me pleasure,

and I wonder, repeatedly I wonder, at this deep sense of enjoyment.