Short Takes

Unless otherwise noted, all illustrations on this page are by Judith R. Robinson

 

 

Introduction: It Is the Forgetting

How close are death and forgetting? At our age, all too close, it turns out.

 

It is the forgetting that makes me mind death. I would not mind it if I could hold onto myself, if I could remember, if I could dream. If death truly were the same as falling asleep. I would slip into that sleep, and there Steve would be, in my dream, as real as people are to the dreamer of any dream. I would hold myself against him, and dream I felt the closeness, dream his body solid and supporting, his arms around me.

We would talk, he and I, it would be dream talk, but it would feel as real as conversations ever feel to those who dream them. Sometimes I would be with my brother or my daughter or son. If I had a conversation with Caroline or Gar I would not be surprised. Would I think, “But you are dead. How can you be here?” I might. Dreamers sometimes do. But it would not end our conversation. They would perhaps be giving me advice, and my dream self might even be taking it. Or at least acting enthusiastic about it instead of noncommittal.

The important thing is not to know I am dreaming. I would not have to think I was alive, just that there was some kind of reality in the people I was seeing, the words we were saying.

Will I dream forever or as my body decays and disappears will I gradually slip away, my memories going with me? And will I mind by then? Perhaps not. But only because I will be dreaming, and dreamers do not think, plan ahead, or ponder. They only breathe and wonder. And recall.

*********

 

How close are forgetting and death? At our age, all too close, it turns out. Forgetting, it turns out, is not a happy topic. Although there are a few amusing moments scattered through these Short Takes, the topic is not one that produces much in the way of cheer, at least not among those of us who are forgetting more than we remember.

And yet, while most of the contributions to this issue will not make you smile, they will make you glad you’ve read them. They are uplifting and engaging. And, most of all, they bring us the grace of new perspectives on issues we thought we were versed on all too well. They make us remember in new ways what it is like to forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying Mantis

I.
She is captivated by their delicate limbs
and soulful eyes so much that she
saved a young one from drowning in
the birdbath. But later that summer in a
fit of anger she mistakes the praying mantis
for the culprit killing her mandevilla. She
sprays it, half hidden in the tangled vines,
with a soapy solution. It stares up in horror
as she gasps at her fatal mistake. In that
moment – on the heels of running a stoplight,
forgetting her boss’s name and finding the milk
in a cupboard – she faces her fear that she is
losing her mind, as her mother lost hers
at the same age she is now.
 
II.
She cannot get over killing one of
her most beloved creatures for she is
the kind of person who leaves stinkbugs
alone when she finds them on a curtain or
a counter. She takes hairy spiders outside
on the end of a broom. Once she returned
an ant to the garden after it rode in on a
peony blossom. Now she remembers
reading somewhere that finding a
praying mantis is good luck and
wonders if killing one is an
omen of her pending demise.
 
III.
Her partner, who has resisted
the idea that she has anything more
than garden-variety forgetfulness,
releases an audible groan when the
doctor informs them it is something
worse. On the drive home he tells her in
a choked voice that for as long as he lives,
she will never live in any kind of facility.
His words warm her heart and calm her mind,
even though she knows it’s a promise
he may not be able to keep.
 
IV.
She insists on riding along the day they
donate her car to a garage that will fix it up
for a young mom who needs one for her new job.
She is moved by the symmetry of this, having
bought the car with money from her promotion
to a job she loved but can no longer do.
As her partner starts the car, she notices
a green twiggy shape on the windshield and
wonders if it’s only her mind misfiring.
But no, he sees it, too, and waits while she
gets out and nudges the praying mantis until
it leaps from the car into the tall grass.
 
V.
Home alone the next morning, she feels
her mother’s spirit as she folds the towels
still warm from the dryer. She recalls standing
with her in their basement long ago, folding
a fluffy pile of her baby sister’s diapers and
how – several decades later – her father
would dispose of his wife’s paper diapers
as if it was the most ordinary of daily tasks.
She thinks now how lucky they both were
that her mother died before she forgot
who he was and how much she loved him.
Tears fill her eyes as she prays that
she, too, can offer this one last
comfort to her own partner.

 

 

 

 

 

In the Empty Evening

 

 

 

 

 

Forgetting to Forget

I promised. I prayed about it, and swore to all that I held dear to forget how I relinquished a doll without regret. But it is no use, I can’t remember to forget. Now at 70, I still feel the sting. No matter how many times I resolve to forget, to let go, I carry this memory given more importance than it deserves. Here is my confession.

Cousin Beth was five and I was three, when she suggested we swap our two dolls. Her doll was soft with curly blonde hair and gleaming blue eyes. Mine was a hard plastic with a light tan molding to give the impression of hair. Neither of our dolls wore any clothes. Then, as if a scene from My Brilliant Friend, Beth and I switched our babies. My memory is faulty as to what happened next; at about suppertime a knock came at our door. It was my Aunt Anna, my mother’s older sister, with Beth by her side holding my doll.

We lived upstairs in my Aunt Anna’s two-family house. Our living space was inadequate for my parents, my two brothers, and me. We had a small kitchen, a bathroom, a living room and one tiny bedroom. Downstairs, my aunt, her husband and my four cousins had three bedrooms, a large parlor, a big kitchen, and a bathroom. It was luxury compared to our meager upstairs apartment. So it isn’t surprising that Beth’s doll was better quality than mine, and even at the age of three I recognized the difference.

The chance to have a prettier baby-doll was not to be missed. I really didn’t love my baby-doll, but instantly loved the one Beth had traded.

Aunt Anna knocked on the door and called upstairs for her sister, my mom.

“Maria, the girls gave away their dolls to each other, and Beth wants her doll back.”

Beth was teary and holding my doll willy-nilly by its arm. I stood like a defiant soldier at the top of the stairs cradling my new baby-doll properly, smashing it to my chest.

“I want my doll back,” Beth cried. “She has my doll.”

“Come downstairs,” Mom commanded me.

One step at a time I made my way to the bottom of the staircase, clinging to my adopted doll. Mom inspected it.

“That’s not your doll!”

“Beth gave it to me and I gave her mine. This is my doll.”

Mom removed the doll from my grasp, and handed it to Beth who promptly dropped my doll onto the bottom step. There my doll lay, just a dirty, ugly, hard plastic, naked cheap toy. She couldn’t be my baby-doll. I never named her.

Decades passed, Beth and I remained close cousins, had real babies and real grandchildren. If I could just un-feel the deep loss about that doll. Which doll? Not the pretty one I gleefully accepted from Beth, but the doll I never loved.

Why could I not remember to forget about the doll incident? Forgetting to forget is a topsy-turvy way of saying forgive and forget.

I don’t know what became of that doll. We moved from Aunt Anna’s home when I was five, and it was probably tossed. Today, I like to imagine another girl found the doll on the heap of our discards, scrubbed its face, dressed the doll with a pretty frock, kissed and named her. This is what I will not forget to forget.

 

 

 

 

 

Night by Night

A hand loosening its grip
is still a hand.
 
Two eggs for breakfast. A mineral smell.
 
We’re not like that, we have
interesting thoughts
a certain slippage is all
 
and did I already salt
my egg
 
on what basis
 
this morning a wandering through
language, those asides
 
sliding free as pennies on
stairs, bright
 
promising, but strange
 
down there.

 

 

 

 

 

Karen to the Moon

My friend has a penchant for the supernatural. “You need a warlock to rid this place of evil spirits,” she insisted, viewing the fixer-upper we’d bought on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. “Carlos is in Mexico, otherwise he could do it,” referring to her second husband. We had trouble finding a phone number for a substitute warlock, but we burned some rosemary and sage for a fresh start. The house felt better.

Karen also initiated the moon worship I’ve half-believed in for the last thirty years. Every full moon, she held her empty wallet (must be empty) aloft toward the moon and offered an incantation sourced from a book of spells:

“Flibberty, gibberty, flasky flum, Hooky, maroosky, whatever’s the sum, Heigh-ho! Money come!”

The moon responded generously. After a sketchy income for years, neither of us has wanted for cash.

Karen dredged up spells for our annual Summer Solstice party. Without internet, in the 1980s, this required research in the art museum bookshop where she worked. We did not shed all our clothes for tree circling at midnight, but some of us came close. Nowadays, we are mainly preoccupied with earthly concerns, appropriate wines, and the menu of fresh goat as we celebrate the changing seasons. Karen shares few concerns at all, locked in the prison of dementia, but perhaps still singing her prayers once we’ve left her alone with the moon.

What I really wanted to tell you is that I miss my friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Things I Had Almost Forgotten, 1969

I had almost forgotten
The tinfoil ties
That the boys in our high school crinkled into shape and wore
So that they would be in compliance with the letter of the dress code
Though demonstrating, not the spirit
This seemed like big, brave rebellion then
At Our Lady of Lourdes High School, in 1969
 
The Brothers had told us of the radical priests, the Berrigans, in religion class
And I had almost forgotten the Moratorium that year to stop the Vietnam War
And how we all went downtown to the local march
And stood in the October crispness in our plaid skirts and knee socks
I didn’t know what it was
When the list of those lost was handed to me
And I was told it was my turn
My turn to read out ten names
 
I had almost forgotten these things
Until, hearing “Un Flambeau, Jeannette Isabella” on the radio
I recalled them all
And remembered too
How in French class
Sister Mary Gerald had taught us la chanson
 
And I had almost forgotten this singing of our all-girl class
And how the Sisters wore the floor-length habits then
So at peace as they swished by

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fragmenting Stories

Every Sunday while I cooked dinner, my mother-in-law, Audrey, in her eighties, sat at my kitchen table and told stories. They could be about singing Norwegian Christmas carols at her great-grandparents, about her grandfather making a doll out of kindling for her, about cutting class with her high school friends to play cards and smoke cigarettes. The next week she would tell another set of them. Perhaps about her friend from childhood who was so poor she had to share a doll with her sister, about writing to movie stars for their autographs, about the first time she met her husband. She had dozens of stories stowed on the shelves of her brain. She told them as an unrelated series, jumping time and place, and when she finished, she looped back to the first one and repeated it, forgetting she’d already shared it.

Dementia had thrown sludge into her short-term memory, hindering her ability to record what she had for lunch or how many people attended church that morning or what she talked about five minutes ago. But she remembered the old stories, and when she told them, the facts were constant. Over the last two years, I’d recorded them, typed them, and organized them into a book for her. The stories were my friends. I knew them so well that when she told them, I could drift in and out and not become lost.

One Sunday while I cooked, Audrey started another round of stories. I recognized them like a song from my childhood, which I could sing for a bit but then would need to hum. Though if someone else sang it, so could I – word for word. But if the lyrics became tangled, I knew it.

I was daydreaming when a snarled narrative snapped my reverie. Audrey had blended two stories, pulled events and people from one and inserted them into another. I listened while she built a hybrid tale from vestiges of her memory. Dementia had obliterated the walls between the stories.

After his parents left, I told my husband. He didn’t want to understand the distinction between his mother repeating a story several times during a two-hour visit and her blending two distinct stories together. A few days later I told his sister, who didn’t want to understand the distinction either.

The following week my in-laws came again for dinner. Audrey told more stories, shifting elements, creating fan fiction from her memories. I listened, never correcting. The humor and poignancy of her stories remained. They gave her pleasure, but the revisions weren’t my friends; they were harbingers forecasting the death of her long-term recall. I didn’t mention it to my husband or his sister again. They didn’t want to think about dementia sliding its icy fingers through the shelves of their mother’s brain, shuffling the realities of her past.

 

 

 

 

 

Musings After Hearing Eurydice on the Radio (Metropolitan Opera)

She has crossed the river        of forgetfulness        only to find herself
in a shower in the elevator        that takes her down        to the Underworld
no memory        no words        & she doesn’t know who her father is
though in my case        I wonder how long it will be        before my dad
doesn’t know        who I am        because yesterday        after I walked around him
after sundown        to retrieve my phone        he didn’t even know
I was there        because sundowning        is a real thing. Can a man whose message
is delivered by a worm        restore memory?    Meanwhile which Orpheus
is which        &    is it even possible        to meet someone interesting
anymore?        My father takes        a new dip each day        into the river
of forgetfulness        & why         even when the title is        Eurydice        must
everything        always        turn out to be        so orphic        in the end?

 

 

 

 

 

Will I Remember?

My favorite scarf went missing in December. Suddenly it wasn’t on its chair, not with my coat, not in the car, not on the closet floor. I hunt through all the sleeves of all my coats, in every drawer and closet, behind boxes on shelves and floors.

I push panic aside and methodically make a list of every person I’d seen in the past two weeks, and then asking:

“Do you remember if I wore my grey scarf that day?”

“Could you have picked it up by mistake?”

“Did I leave it at your house?”

“In your car?”

“Please look in your car.”

I contact every place I’d been: a Thai restaurant and a Chinese restaurant, two coffee shops, a movie theater, a grocery store, a tire store. I diligently make multiple calls and second visits. Strangers behind counters offer sympathy for my loss and tell me about things they have lost. We speculate about how we lose what we care about most and why the lost object matters.

After another week of hope, I stop searching, admit the scarf is gone. I call my brother, a curator at a history museum.

“I’m feeling blue – I lost the scarf he gave me.”

*

On a dreary January day some twenty years ago, a grey cashmere scarf arrived in my mailbox. It was from an old friend who had moved to my city a few months ago. We met for movies and shared meals in neighborhood restaurants.

His gift surprised me. His note surprised me even more.

“I wish I could be where this will be.”

I smiled at his graceful phrase, admired his risky words.

And the scarf was a delight – soft, thick yet light, generously fringed. I wore it as we walked more frequently, lingered on cold benches, stopped at an Italian place to warm up with espresso or Irish coffee.

Friendship turned into affection, intimacy, and love. We married. Happiness lasted until his death fifteen years later.

*

My brother and I talk about objects and memory and the links between them. He says the urge to keep things is a natural instinct and that most people, just like museums, collect and preserve meaningful objects. I remark that according to Marx and Madonna we all live in a material world, and he laughs too hard at my feeble effort at humor.

When I say goodbye, he says, “Cheer up. You’ll always have the memory.”

Will I?

I don’t think so. I won’t really remember.

Yes, I’ll always have the story about the scarf – the story I tell you now.

But without seeing the muted grey and feeling the fine fabric in my palm, I will forget walking together in cool winter air, the warmth of the scarf, the weight of his hand on my shoulder.
 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget Death

Whoa, Death. I know you’re there
I live better by not forgetting you.
 
So no need to hide in back alleys of my mind
squatting seething sneaking ‘round
corners of my consciousness
Scythe a’ready to cut me down
at first whimper of ache or crack of age.
 
To wit. Go. Sit.
Perch atop your boulder of ruthless indifference.
Glare out from your endless emptiness.
But stay silent!
Keep your deadly handshake in your pocket.
 
I promise to live a full squeeze-the-orange life
before you kidnap me into your impersonal nothingness.
Your black shrouded skeleton your monstrous Otherness
will have its day of reckoning. But not now.
 
My body has not yet gnarled up, no teeth fallen out,
Memory can wobble but I still grasp day of time and who I love
I will surrender to you some day.
But not now!
Now I savor!
 
More time I need to awaken to sparkled morning dew
To smell blood red rose on bended knee
To giggle at the renegade Red Balloon sailing to heaven
To linger over afternoon tea, over love and loss, licking lipstick and lollipops,
More time to taste each bite of juiciness running down my chin
a mouth smacking life
delectable
beyond regrets.
 
Whoa, Death.
Stay silent now.
We’ve agreed.
I’ll see ya later.

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkled With Glitter

I visited my mother yesterday at the nursing home. It was 10:15, and she was still asleep in bed. She looked smaller than she ever had, her cheeks sunken without her false teeth, her body so still beneath the blankets which were drawn to her chin. This woman is so different from the one I visited years ago before we moved her to our Minnesota town. I had flown into Evansville, Indiana for a short stay at her apartment in the senior residence. Back in the city where I was born, I experienced a child-like wonder at having a sleepover at my mom’s and the amazing thought that this could be fun.

Moving her a few years later from Indiana to Minnesota was the right thing to do. But her presence at Life Links Senior Apartments felt like a burden. Dealing with her desires and loneliness, her diminishing capacity, her frequent puzzling demands and constant dependence on me was nearly more than I could bear – especially given everything else going on in my life at that time. I would work five more years before retirement. Our son’s huge turnaround was still several years off, and my uncle’s decline became obvious and irreversible a year or two after Mom, his sister, moved into the same complex of apartments and care centers where he lived.

Watching the final season of Shameless and Mickey Milkovich’s grief-stricken reaction to the death of his violent, racist, and homophobic father made me think about my own troubled relationship with my mother. Daughters and mothers don’t always get along. They don’t always share clothes and spend afternoons together at the mall. My mother wasn’t a Milkovich, but her behavior towards me was erratic and careless. I spent most of my life trying to get away from her.

Now she’s eighty-six years old, I am her legal guardian, and the staff at the care facility where she lives tells me that this is the last stage of her long life. As she drops pounds and loses bits of her meager cognitive ability, it’s as if she’s been defanged, stripped of claws, bubble-wrapped, and sprinkled with glitter.

I am often on the verge of tears. All her rough edges have been sanded away. She teases me without barbs. When I kiss her she leans into me, warm and brittle. All the love I had packed away for the too-young mother who was too involved in raising herself to raise me has come out of hiding. Along with it comes sadness.

I am losing, have lost, and have found my mommy.
 

 

 

 

 

Forget-Me-Nots

Wouldn’t it be wise to try forgetting
or at least to set aside—“it’s over,”
knowing the body’s soaked into soil—
let go of regret while the modern casket
releases organic liquors from drains?
 
To embrace each day without regret,
let me forget being held when weeping—
I’ll remember instead this morning’s list
of notes to send, tasks out of doors
finding tiny blue florets I’ve set
 
in the garden bed after the dead.
Does this old sweater recall warm arms?
Maybe one summer morning I’ll call
all the photos to face the wall—turn a corner
toward a path ahead
 
that’s free of how love’s insistent blade
carved and reshaped my pathways, made
a topographic map in shades of blue
and green and neat inked labels. Stillness
gleams like shaded water—then pellets of rain,
the scent of pain, unmade again. Remain.

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

Memories Thin to Gauze

Each memory starts as a gash,
harsh sweeps
all aligned,
horizon battling horizon.
Blood over a subtle grid calls us to earth,
then to water, where jellyfish tentacles sway a veil
in phosphorescent oceans.
The artist gives no moment no end,
sends us on to white walls
interrupted by disintegration.
 
Each memory will thin to a gauze
of silvery needles
all aligned.
These robes are woven for mothers who weep, who wait
for the spirit who drifts, dissolves, leaves ghostly threads
as though casually strewn
on sidewalks,
to invite the footfall of shoeless wanderers
barely awakened by a dim consciousness
that souls were here, now forgotten,
gently trying to give us a message,
before we move on to walls of white.

 

 

 

 

 

Forgetting You

I do not want to be reminded of your death. Not the day or the week or the month. It is too painful. And yet, every day, there it is. You died on June 15, 2021. I remember in excruciating detail all of the events leading up to your death, every time you fell, each time you could not navigate to the toilet, all of the days in the hospital, each drive to hospice, especially the last one when they called and said there had been a change in your condition.

Is it wrong to want to forget? To envy those who cannot hold a thought longer than a minute. Perhaps less.

The grief books and therapists tell you to live in the present. Life is in the present, not the past and not in the future. The past is where regret lives and the future is the home of fear, so you must concentrate on now, this moment. That is where you will find happiness.

Instead, I swing between the past and the future and it is whiplash for my heart. I remember you driving oddly, getting weaker and shaky. Falling. I regret not seeing what was happening for what it was. You had been ill before and you recovered. You were not going to die, you would get better. We both worked so hard to make that happen. Only it didn’t.

And now these memories return as flashbacks that grab at me while I am thinking, how can I go on? Waves of grief stab at me while I sink to my knees in fear of a future alone.

So, I want to lose the ability to remember anything. I do not want to remember that you died. I do not want to think about you when I am alone. I want to forget everything.

Some people would say, what about the memories you have of the good times, of your love and the fun you had? But those memories are smoke. I cannot hold a memory or touch its arm for reassurance. A memory will not make me laugh or help me when I need advice. A memory cannot hold what is best about us: always you and me.

I long for the thing to happen, for my mind to get slippery and lose its laser focus on all that has been lost and all that will come. To let go of it all and just live with no memories and no fear. Then I will be free.

 

 

 

 

 

Being Human

I can’t know why
I phoned my husband
when I did, just in time
to hear him tell me,
“He is going now. He took his last breath.
I’ve got his hand in mine.”
 
I’d like to think I was responding to a frequency,
a singular vibration in the universe,
a nudge that said “call now,” that it was happening –
this sturdy patriarch
was leaving his warm body ,
now, as his bony hand was
clutched inside his son’s unbreakable love.
 
I listened to my husband
murmur in his father’s empty ear
how many on this earth would miss him,
how he was so important to the lives he touched.
 
Being human, who knows how much
his father felt or understood?
But being human, it is important to remember
how the earth summoned our attention
to this detail of his death,
this vacant air, a hole in the clouds,
or something silent in the sky,
one hand held, now floating in an other’s empty hand,
one disembodied lifetime, held close, among so many stars.

 

 

 

 

 

Memory Cracks

“Do you remember?”

I look at my husband. We’re sitting in the living room watching our favorite TV show.

“Do you remember where we met for the first time?” I ask him.

I can detect that look in his eyes. The one that only recently appeared. It masks, I know from my own experience, a certain sense of loss. Over the years, my memory transformed from an ally to an adversary. It seems as if a safe storage place has suddenly sprung holes where information, at times crucial, is leaking out.

It started with names, of people and places. A name that was there a minute ago is now lost. It is almost a physical sensation; this piece of information slips away too quickly for me to send a metaphorical hand to retrieve it. Five minutes, or an hour, perhaps a day, and here it is back as if it was never absent.

Only names, I think; tiny fragments of information. There are perhaps too many of them, occupying my mind like an overloaded computer. The comparison to my computer brightens my mood. I know how my personal computer sometimes fails to retrieve the information I saved in it. Perhaps all I need to do is defrag my mind, just as I do with my hard drive. After all, a defragmented hard drive is a happy one, say the computer geeks. Delete what is not needed, lose the second or third copy of the same file, and the movement of knowledge will become smoother.

Reorganizing files on a hard disk ensures that each file is appropriately stored on the disk, thereby improving computer performance and maximizing disk space. I wonder if this reorganization can work for the brain as well.

“We met in your office in the town of Arad in September of 1975.” My husband’s voice startles me from my deep thoughts.

“You really thought that I could forget such important information?” I can detect the teasing tone in his voice.

Upon retrieving the information, the entire file opens up. Forty-six years slide down the memory chute to reveal one special, unforgettable moment. A moment when two strangers met and formed a lasting connection. Computer defragmentation and rearranging particles of knowledge: They have nothing on the human brain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgetting

Starts with—’ I say
mind groping for a word
afraid
of getting
forgetful
forget-full
mind empty but
no longer
regret-full
no longer
set on
remembering
re-member-ing
 
dis-membering
 
Forgetting is good
for getting
free of regret
 
And yet.
 
Ends with—
 
a word
 
a poem
 
a defiant act of
 
[not] forgetting

 

 

 

 

 

The Water Has Been a Long Time Coming

The water broke in my mother the day I was born. She no longer remembers that day, she no longer remembers placing me in the warm womb of the sea for the first time, she no longer remembers what she had for lunch today; she still does remember my name, the feel of my hand in hers, the knowledge that I am her firstborn, her only daughter, who was taught to stand on dry ground.
 
But now my mother, who no longer can share the memory of water breaking, who can no longer stay afloat in the water of her life, who has been cast adrift in her waning years, opens a fissure in my earth. I sit by her side holding her hand and cry for her memories blown away by the winds of age and genes, and for all those who struggle to hold on to who they were, are, and will be. I cry for myself, for my fear that when I look into my mother’s face softened by wrinkles and forgetfulness, I am looking into a mirror.
 
I cry not only for all that is lost but for what could be lost, for those memories I can still pull out of the drawers of my life; that I can take out one by one and slowly run my hands along their creases. When I sit by my mother’s side, holding her hand, a dam breaks inside me.

 

 

 

 

A Small Motel Mirror

Once in a small motel awaiting a visit
from a secret lover
I felt so futile
I wanted to get drunk or high
 
instead of sitting—waiting like lint
on the mattress—swallow and move
a little further into the fog of forgetting
but the booze ran out before the feeling
 
and I was left with my reflection
in the mirror over the dresser—a sad
woman with mascara blurring her eyes—
it’s anybody’s story sometimes
 
but for me it was the beginning
of self-hatred for all the motel rooms
wild nights of spilled drinks
and manic conversations about poor me
 
I picked up my fake fur coat
and without leaving a note left
the room and that part of my life
lying on the bed

 

 

 

 

I Have Forgotten

 

 

 

 

 

Forgetful … or Not

“So when are we going to the show?” my husband Steve asks as we dig into our grilled chicken and salad dinner one evening.

“Uh…honestly, I’m not sure. Sometime the week after Labor Day. I just don’t remember the exact date,” I respond, concentrating on my plate.

“Saturday night?”

“Definitely not Friday or Saturday. I didn’t want to deal with traffic. One night during the week. Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.”

“You don’t know? You don’t remember? Didn’t you exchange the tickets?” looking at me as if I was from another planet. His body language insinuated: How could you forget?

“I did. Called last week. I just don’t remember what day the new tickets are for, and forgot to add it to our calendar.”

“Oh … you better find out when we’re going or we won’t go. I don’t want to lose our money.”

”I know. I’ll call.”

End of conversation.

 

The next day I called the box office and sheepishly explained my dilemma to the woman on the other end of the line.

She burst into laughter.

“I won’t ask your age or how your memory is doing these days,” she says between fits of hilarity, and, after controlling herself, continues, “OK, give me your name and let me look up your account …”

A minute later she was back on the line, “I see you requested a ticket exchange.”

“Right, we couldn’t go when originally scheduled. Last minute grandsitting obligation.”

“I understand. I have your account here. I see the request for exchange, but we are holding for further instructions. There is no date noted for another show.”

“Oh, I guess that’s why I couldn’t remember when we were going. There was no date. I guess I called requesting an exchange and figured I’d call again and choose another day later. Can I exchange my tickets now?”

“Sure. When would you like to go?”

“OK, give me a minute, I’m bringing up my calendar.” A few seconds later the information appeared on my computer screen, “How about Wednesday or Thursday, September 6th or 7th?”

“We have good seats available for either night.”

“OK, let’s make it Wednesday.”

“Any preference for seating?”

“No, we haven’t been to that theater before.”

“Well, I have two seats row six center.”

“Sounds great …”

“You will receive an email confirmation. You can print your tickets.”

“Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, goodbye.”

 

I immediately put the information on my calendar.
 

 

 

 

The Gardener

Withered fingers touch the bright green leaves.
“This needs some…”
Words retreat
and slither off
beyond her grasp.
Restless fingers
gently trace
and feel the buds
that hide between the leaves
and tenderly caress
silken blooms
upon their plastic stems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Comments on “Forgetting

  1. For years I have not read. I didn’t want to remember that I could write. Better to stay silent. It is too painful to remember. This issue gave me inspiration. Thank you.

  2. This is a stellar collection of heartfelt deeply moving forgetting. Each writing savored by taking the opportunity to read again. Thank you to each writer for making my day so much richer. 💕

  3. “Fragmenting Stories” showed that a true listener heard more than the words spoken. When she tried to share what she had learned, her family was afraid to listen. Very perceptive.

    1. As the author of one of the pieces, I thank you. I, too, read all of the pieces and loved their depth and honesty. Many of the images and emotions have stayed with me.

      1. I feel the same way, Vickie. I love this collection, the beautiful writing and all the different takes on the topic. Am so grateful to be included in it.

  4. Thank you Jackie Langetieg for the thoughts in “A small Motel Mirror.” How many of us have looked into a mirror while sitting and waiting only wanting to have the nerve to pick up our belongings and slipping out of the door. Good writing.

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