Sunday, March 30, 2008
Forgetting where I put my glasses, and occasionally, my mind...
For National Poetry Month, which begins on April 1, I wanted to post a favorite poem and add a sketch to go with it. Since one's eyesight and memory seem to begin their decline around the same time, a drawing of my eyeglasses seemed appropriate to accompany this poem.
The optometrist has been suggesting for several years that I get bifocals. I've resisted for a variety of reason (vanity mostly) and instead, I have glasses for reading and glasses for distance. Most of the time I don't wear glasses, but I can often be found wandering up and down the stairs, cursing under my breath, looking for my reading glasses or for the pair I wear when watching TV. Someone has left them in the wrong place. Again. And sometimes, of course, I look for them when they are actually hanging around my neck.
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.
By Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-2003
From Sailing Alone Around the Room