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.

Forgetfulness

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

16 comments:

Alan said...

Been with bifocals for some time. sometimes I forget which way to tilt my head for the correct part of the lenses.

seesue said...

Thanks so much for sharing this poem. I believe that I will lift it (properly credited) to post at work. Loved the prompt to visit your site. Love your talent! I'll be back eagerly anticipating further developements.

willow said...

You know I am a huge Billy Collins fan...and I can certainly relate to this poem! Can't remember a thing, especially the location of my reading glasses. I even put a pair in every room.

Thanks for posting this great poem and I love your sketch.

Alison said...

Great poem - I've never come across it before. Lovely sketch - thanks for this post - nice to know other fall into the same boat

andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

he he, very good.

Linda T said...

Great poem, and I like the sketch. Love the skies, too.

Sherry said...

My dear, you speak truth.

Jess said...

I've been in denial about having reading glasses but now they're essential! Lovely drawing!

SCquiltaddict said...

great glasses sketch

Lynn said...

Both the poem and the drawing are brilliant! I really like the shadows of the glasses and the way the fade away ... just like our memories.

Shelly McC said...

Wow! Beautiful drawing!

Robyn said...

I thought for a moment this was a photograph of your new glasses, Sharon. Terrific drawing.

It's a wonderful poem, isn't it.

Robyn said...

I forgot to say I'm always forgetting where I put my glasses - if you get my drift.

Susan Cornelis said...

What a touching post! The exquisite little painting of glasses and Billy Collins speaking directly from My experience too. I join you both totally in the memory and glasses struggles.

Rock Kyndl said...

One time when I attended a talk with Alan Watts, someone asked him for a definition of "the present"; whereupon AW wrote the following on a blackboard: "What is the last thing you forgot?"
We all instantly wrinkled our eyebrows, searching for our individual answers. He let us do this for awhile and then gently pointed out that the question itself was the answer. (We all 'forgot' the immediacy of 'the question' (literally) before us and drifted off into our own worlds looking for answers.
...very Zen...too cool.

(Thanks for prompting such a great memory that I obviously haven't forgotten!)

africantapestry said...

A wonderful poem and drawing...and I thoroughly enjoyed robyn's pun!
ronell