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141: Forgetfulness

"Forgetfulness"
Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye,
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
thecalm
Feb. 29th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
i like this poem a lot. :) thanks for posting this.
shawt_shiitake
Mar. 1st, 2008 10:26 pm (UTC)
very nice =)
I especially like the last 2 lines.
so_insecure
Mar. 1st, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
i agree, the last two lines are what made this poem exceptionally beautiful to me, though i found it to be poignant all the same.
_una_
Mar. 2nd, 2008 06:29 am (UTC)
The more I read from Billy Collins, the more I kick myself for not having picked up any of his work before.
emerald_caprice
Mar. 2nd, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
i love billy collins. my creative writing teacher in high school introduced me to his works, but i had forgotten about him until now-- no pun intended, of course. :)
3708
Mar. 3rd, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
including billy collins between john milton and sylvia plath is criminal.

there are a thousand and one dazzling contemporary poets who could easily sit between the two. billy collins is distinctly not one of them.
inscraps
Mar. 7th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
I really like this, it's words are strong and powerful
(Anonymous)
Mar. 11th, 2008 07:18 am (UTC)
ah~ maybe forgetting things is worse than dying
goingcrazyhere
Apr. 10th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
I really liked this one.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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poetry, exceptindreams
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a poem some days

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