Jean François Painchaud

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.

More art by Jean François Painchaud here.
Recommended listening: Where Is My Mind – Pixies

My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer


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