Ode to Forgetting by Jamaal May
I know how to lie still when wind
makes grass writhe against me like snakes.
I want snakes to carry me away.
I’ve always been too big for this,
even before my first kiss
trapped me against a garage,
its peeling paint scratching new
patterns into my back.
I tried to read lines on skin.
Looked for maps out of myself.
I’ve wanted to get carried away
for days. Not even the gale
that foreshadowed the storm
that tore a tree out of ground
can come close to lifting me.
Too much in my pockets I suppose:
an assortment of keys to locks
that have long been forgotten.
Maybe forgotten isn’t the same
as lost, and lost isn’t the same
as dead. I forget dead folks all the time.
The space they used to take up is filling
with something like air but breathable.
Just the other night, a silhouette
arrived clothed in a moment I couldn’t recall.
Even cities I’ve seen and seen are naked and new,
a coterie of streets named I Thought I Knew the Way
and Her House Used to Be Somewhere Near Here.