“How to Forget” by Nancy Miller Gomez

Nancy Miller Gomez


I am lining my memories up against the wall.
They are begging me for reprieve. Here is the night
I found you on the floor, folded
like laundry. Here are the bloody towels,
the smell of ammonia and rotting fruit.
Once I was a wife. Now
I am a wilderness. I am the grove
of aspens. All that’s left of you
are candle stubs and carpet stains.
All your goodbyes have turned into horses.
They are grazing peacefully. Your words
are blades of grass, our last argument
a pasture dotted with poppies.
That night I watched you wash
your bruised hands in the sink. Now,
I see two fish diving into a stream.
I am re-remembering the last time
we spoke. I have turned it into a holiday,
marked it on the calendar
with an asterisk. A day to eat cake.
A day to enter the cellar
and retrieve the special vintage
with its sweet notes of smoke and honey.
Lush on the tongue. Easy to swallow.
The golden crowned sparrows
have returned from their long summer
singing of loss. Three notes.
One for the knife, one for the cut,
one for all I have

from Rattle #83, Spring 2024


Nancy Miller Gomez: “According to Michael Anderson, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, with ‘motivated forgetting’ you can forget with intentionality and sculpt your painful memories into something beautiful. In a New York Times article, Anderson says you can get better at this with practice. ‘How to Forget’ grew out of a thought exercise where the narrator is lining her memories up and making choices about which ones to kill off, and which ones to keep and reshape.” (web)

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