September 24, 2008

Jake Willard-Crist

MISS MEMORY

A woman on the radio can recall every day
of her life for the last thirty years. The weather,
headlines, whether it was Monday.

Ten years old on a rainy Tuesday she bought loafers
with her mother. A Labrador wrung itself out like a rag.
She compares autumns. Ranks Easters by hams.

Every morning in the bathroom she reflects on the day’s date,
compendiously calls up her history with June’s third Friday.
Drying her hair, what does she reconstruct in the steamy air?

Something like this: “Five years ago I brushed my teeth here
and remembered a day five years before at another sink,
where I dried my hair remembering yet another bathroom

five years before, brushing, drying, passing time with past time.”
In the vortex of her memory the sinks change.
The porcelain warps into ovals and back to rectangles;

pure white veins out into faux marble.
All the sunken sinks bob back into the present.
Outside the bathrooms that shutter into her now

the weather warps. Rain on the awning yawns
into sun shooting through curtains, catching on wet tiles.
In the nostalgic spiral the mirror gets higher.

She shrinks, her reflection usurped incrementally
by her mother’s behind her brushing out tangles.
She closes her eyes, winces. She memories pain away.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2008