Forgetting                                                                                              —Gary J. Whitehead

What she can’t remember comes apart
in me so that my heart confuses its rooms.

She irons, and the crease uncreases,
the steam hisses, her washed thoughts

call up ancient vacations—a Laundromat
in Maine, the four of us shivering naked

while the machines churned our grime,
the time we caught blue crabs on the Cape,

our trunks black with inlet mud. But
she can’t remember what she’s just said.

There’s a freshness to forgetfulness.
And when there is no more memory

everything will be clean and put away.
She pulls another shirt from the basket.

I wander the rooms where I grew,
rooms soon to be someone else’s.

I feel the embossed spines of old book sets,
their wrinkled titles, and one gilt cloth

holding a place in a story
one of us never quite saw to the end of.

Gary J. Whitehead

Gary J. Whitehead’s third collection of poems, A Glossary of Chickens, was published by Princeton University Press in 2013. His previous books include Measuring Cubits while the Thunder Claps and The Velocity of Dust. He has also authored three chapbooks of poetry, two of which were winners of national competitions. His writing awards include, among others, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the Pearl Hogrefe Fellowship at Iowa State University, and the PEN Northwest Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency Award. He has conducted residencies at Blue Mountain Center, Mesa Refuge, the Heinrich Boll Cottage, and Marble House Project, and has been awarded the Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award. His poems have appeared widely, most notably in The New Yorker. He lives in the Hudson Valley of New York and teaches English and creative writing at Tenafly High School in New Jersey.

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2016