I’m Sorry, I’m Starting to Forget


Some of us left people and relationships behind to pursue our dreams in Peace Corps. We are now a year or two years into service; for some of us, those people are farther away than ever and, for one reason or another, will never be as close as they were before.

Before waking this morning,
my psychology —
wholly enmeshed in the whim-dream of REM sleep —
sputtered and choked,
as it failed to complete an image of your face,
the pretty lines of which
eluded me last night
tetherless as specks of dust in a windstorm
scattering cerebral pixels

so that I could not piece together
the seemly symmetry of your round nose
or recreate the way your eyebrows
awned the wrinkled corners
of your dark eyes,
which never wandered,
never searched for something else that

I cannot remember

how your immutable smile
dimpled brackets into your face,
your proclivity for joy lending
its happy punctuation
to your cheeks —

these the jigsaw puzzle pieces
that my mind has before clambered to gather
like it did last night,
some nine months since
I saw you last at TSA.

For a time,
looking at your face was always better
than dreaming of it
through clouded, months-old dream goggles
and always sweeter
than my futile attempts
at bypassing the synaptic traffic
in my brain’s neural highways
leading to a three-second-or-less snapshot
frame of you

but today —
though pained to say —
I’m averse to
the likeness of you

since you punched
those final words for me
into the body of an email,
into my body,
I can’t be your friend plunging
past my embrittled sternum
into my dried-up left chest,
and now a decade of images of your face
seethe from the wound
and sear my skin,
carving out a gray cavity
like a grave to bury
the gravity of an already-lingering thought —

that our stories will be authored
within the bindings of books
with different titles and different
endings and different

But this is old news
to my maimed psychology,
which suddenly yearns for subtraction,
grappling with the sad
mechanisms of erasure,
your face
the object of expense

in the memory bank
of a boy who sorely scrapes
a pink rubber rhombus
across every recto and verso
of a 1,000-page book
on the history of your face
next to

my face,

now arched over a borrowed wooden desk,
perfects the art of forgetting,
while a lick of smoke
from a newly extinguished candle
flicks my chin
until my eyes meet those
of a wall-framed King Rama IX,
whose tired eyelids seem to droop
the way mine used to
when I wanted
to dream of your face

which tonight, like last night,
my brain will stop me from doing
by cutting more holes
in the waning image of your face,
but tonight,
and every night after this,
I will remember
to forget
to fill in the gaps.

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