Tuesday, April 29, 2008


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 good-bye
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.

Billy Collins
1941 -
American Poet Laureate

Ah, this poem is way too a propos for me.....I'm blogging furiously to record life, because I feel like there will be a time when I dont remember.... Then I can clean out closets. In the meantime, I will continue to ignore the mess..

At any rate, if you've made it this far in the post you must click over to the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation webpage. Scroll down to find last year's winner who recited this delightful poem. On the right his name is Jack Hille from Ohio. I hope you find the time to listen.

This year's competition is taking place today. I'm following the student from Georgia. I read about him in the AJC newspaper.

Reading aloud and poetry are not passe.

Go see!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, what a treat.

    I cracked up when it came to the capital of Paraguay, because that actually niggled at my brain for a while recently. I spent a summer with a missionary from Asuncion (in Jones, Michigan, not in Paraguay) who was a balm to my mother-hungry heart. But there I was, remembering the woman I called "ma mere" and forgetting the name where she came from.

    Thank you for a refreshing break on this busy Tuesday, my friend.

    Vive la poetry and recitation!