Memory

by Alice Neiley


They say the choice part doesn’t last long; what we choose
to forget, who we believe
ourselves to be

I was lying on the lawn with my brother when we heard that, our radio between us
Just pull the plug, I said, if that ever happens to me

Fine, he said, No problem, turning back toward home even before
the sun slipped
out of fog again, falling over
our backs

Perhaps it’s not fear of loss but arrival, when everything we’ve so carefully forgotten
comes back,
like running barefoot after someone down the interstate
but not remembering who–the breath
of it, for example, the hot pavement

So who’s to know what we will really want that day
sometimes I dream snow, sometimes
cellists crowd outside my window, drawing their bows across the dark grass–Listen,
even on good days I do almost anything
not to be left

and I am already becoming
obvious, circling the yard of other people’s lives, knees of my jeans damp, desire
and regret stunning as bones
in a street

as with anyone who has been traveled into and not yet
traveled out of, I am almost
cold, almost happy, jumping in
that water, red coat and
shoes too, as if that is all I’ll have left, all I remember, all
I remember—ferocious, shivering down me, asking out loud if someone could please just
touch my hair.


Read Alice Neiley’s The Girl or read her artist statement

Or read more poetry in our current issue