Shut up. There will come a day when I no longer know
you, when I say, “I vaguely remember someone
with that name,” and wince like my cheek and forehead
are trying to shut my eyes for me. Mother!
Tell me the home movies aren’t all lost. Tell me
my experience has been continuous since birth. Some
days I sit and stare at my hands and forget
they touched a Monet when the guard
with his hands in his pockets ambled to the next room.
I learned to lose without acquiring a taste for it. I tried to clean
a sponge with a sponge, and once I invaded a country
by myself. Can you believe I used to imagine
you naked in the kitchen, picking an apple
from the bowl, washing it in our sink, and putting it back?
But I don’t know what your body looks like anymore.
I don’t know where your legs stop or the height
of your mouth against my chest. In a silent room,
even a pen clicking is loud. We have left the TV on
again for the room to watch, and now my heartbeat is fat
from too much coffee. Do you remember how
I worshipped you? You who season your chicken
with water. You who write your checks in pencil.
I who had to wear my jeans with running shoes
and who held the camera while trying to stay in the shot.
I know not everyone is a genius because they sell
Harvard shirts at Wal-Mart. Swallowing hurts
when your neck is broken. So does twisting
your neck like a towel over a sink. I have had my share
of continental breakfasts and complementary
shower gels. I have had my share of undeveloped
photographs. I know what it’s like to forget
you have a tongue. Remember, of course, that it
is free to use your own mouth, and remember
that movies end, that eyes roll in their lids
and look away. Remember that God, too, is an individual
I used to worship. He has his opinions
and so do you, so do I. Now, when I see you again
you are ugly, and haven’t changed at all. I’m happy.
I’m watching movies in my underwear, and my hammer,
covered in the dust of smashed concrete, reclines
on the table and would stand were it lighter, and when
I grab the wooden handle to pick it up, I know I’m shaking
bigger hands than mine, I know I can carry it
back to the shed, but I don’t, and I won’t
until I can listen to every song that ever made me cry
without crying—until I convince myself your lips
have as many nerves as rubber—until I can walk
in on the best part of a movie and feel nothing at all.