Untitled by Sharon Olson

from The Writer’s Almanac

Untitled by Sharon Olson

In the place in the brain that handles names––
Hannibal, Hannaleah, Atlee Hammacher––
the names are beginning to disappear, slowly.
Kissinger is still there, with Joyce Brothers and Idi Amin,
but my friends’ relatives’ names pop in and out
along with my sister-in-law’s maiden name,
my sixth-grade teacher,
my first boss.
Some of my former lovers’ last names are gone,
last time I checked all the first names were still there,
but no dates.
Fellows I went on dates with are also gone.
The room in the brain that keeps the names is airy,
breezy, the wind wanders through
ruffling the papers stacked on ancient card tables.
Use rocks, they say,
so I am looking for rocks to weight them down.
So nice to find you here, I know you––
perhaps I was once in love with you.

I have an idea:
we will be like Brando and Schneider,
we will do it without touching, without names.

“Untitled” by Sharon Olson from The Long Night of Flying. © Sixteen Rivers Press, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

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