Titles and names elude me. I can quote a poem from head to tail and not remember what it’s called, or a passage of scripture and forget chapter and verse. Sometimes it takes me weeks to figure out the title of a poem I finished long before. And even when I get the title, it feels like something I settled for. I meet someone the third time, the fourth time, and their name is still lost in a fog of approximations—something beginning with J or G, a name like a sluicing of water, a stormy day. But that rain doesn’t feed my memory, raise up any flower of recollection, though I remember they like paratha and jogging through the park. Though I know they hum to themselves as they walk. Though I notice the flaw in the rug pattern, right where the leaf blade curves into the sundial, I can’t find my glasses sitting on the desk where I placed them an hour ago, next to a book on the history of religious freedom in America which is silent about the troops of Fort Sill ending the Sun Dance by order of the government. I find what’s hidden and miss what’s revealed. Conceal my birthday gift, and I’ll find it by dinner. Put it on the kitchen table, and I won’t notice it for a month. And the gift of my days and years, are their moments slipping through the cracks in my steady gaze? Am I missing the joy of my child’s smile, the beauty of my wife’s subtle gestures because they’re too near?—the lens of my vision bending light around all they ever meant to me until they vanish like cards in a magic trick? Must I keep my wife at arm’s length to be sure I can take her all in, can take the measure of her and love her to the full before I lose sight of the pet names we once called each other, and the hand I refused to stop holding even as we fell asleep with our palms sweaty in the summer heat?
Michael T. Young