One day there are words missing
from the pages of your life,
details to memories you could afford to lose.
Forget the rule “I” before “E”
except after “C”? No biggie.
Neither is forgetting lyrics to rhymes
by Mother Goose.
Same as cutting
a, an, and the,
from a slack piece of prose:
omissions known to sharpen
poetry to lethal points.

Yet when nouns begin to vanish,
people, places, things—
it soon turns your story into gibberish,
a jumble of unrelated Scrabble pieces
floating loosely in a bowl
of grey matter soup.
Take what’s-her-name, the woman
you said “I do” to in 1945,
the woman who spoon-feeds you Gerber,
who wipes dribble from your chin
and reminds you to swallow.
Who is she?

What do charity runs and purple ribbons mean
to an editor who ruthlessly deletes you?
How much is your life worth to a disease
that treats you like a typo? Are you a typo?
You will never                 your honeymoon,
how you and             spent two weeks
sunbathing in             while mushroom clouds
were blooming             skies of Japan.

Clock-hands spin backward
faster than the paddles on a fan.
In less than a decade they rewind you
from elder to teen to toddler to infant.
The most we do is watch words wink out
like candles for birthdays in reverse.
We flip through the pages of your life,
reintroduced to blank sheets of paper.

On the bed this morning I find you curled,
a fetus dreaming prenatal questions.
I tuck a memory-foam pillow under your head,
a pillow that wants to believe in
supernatural healing powers
to help you remember. I picture you waking,
your eyes full of light as bright as
post-war skies, while memories,
words once missing from your life story,
come rushing back home.

In Memory of Ken Lovins

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