Let’s begin with inquiry; was it his years as a ship-fitter?
Deep in the steel hulls, the hot sparks
unavoidable, leaving an unbroken wake on their way
to the hippocampus?
Or was it the years of cigarettes restricting
blood flow to the brain?
The self-inflicted stress?
The fall he took last summer?
All the books say: You are dealing
with ambiguous loss.
Let’s muddle in rumination; he often referred to himself
as an encyclopedia of useless information… ,
the man with the answers, and though memory is not
everything, he could still name his mother’s brothers
in a second flat (George, Gene, John and Sam).
The Jersey City streets of his youth
even faster, but no recollection of my visit
an hour ago. My name unnamable.
All the books say: It is called the long goodbye.
Be willing to let go.
Let’s end in mystery; the MRI report read:
Normal shrinkage of the brain.
Evidence — once again
that everything recedes.
My murky shadow a mishmash
of daughter, wife, nurse and dream.
Does he think I have forgotten him?
Is his soul receding too?
This will be my new liturgy: when there is much to remember,
there is much to forget.
Tina Schumann is the author of two poetry collections, Praising the Paradox (Red Hen Press,2019) and As If (Parlor City Press, 2010), which was awarded the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize. Her work was a finalist in the National Poetry Series, Four Way Books Intro Prize and the New Issues Prize. She is the recipient of the 2009 American Poet Prize from The American Poetry Journal and a Pushcart nominee. She is the curator and editor of the anthology Two-Countries: U.S. Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents (Red Hen Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in various publications and anthologies, including The American Journal of Poetry, Ascent, Cimarron Review, Crab Creek Review, Midwest Quarterly, Nimrod, and The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Read more about Tina at http://www.tinaschumann.com
Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.
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