Memory

I’ve been reading through Alicia Suskin Ostriker’s newest collection of beautiful poems The Book of Seventy.

Some of the lines from the first poem in the book, Approaching Seventy, strike me.

Sit and watch the memory disappear

romance disappear the probability

of new adventures disappear


well isn’t it beautiful

when the sun goes down

don’t we all want to be where we can watch it


redden

sink to a spark

disappear

***

This weekend, I watched pieces of a documentary produced by HBO called The Alzheimer’s Project with Thomas, my boyfriend.  I thought about this notion of control slowly dissipating with old age.  The bits of memory that stay with us; the songs/poems we sing despite our sons’ names forgotten; the flashes of an artist’s palette that remain.  I think of Ostriker’s poems.  The fleeting moment that is here, the spark that reddens before disappearing.  Despite helplessness, confusion, despair that comes with memory loss, how beautiful it is to stay in a moment/the present.  As a poet, I think about why.  One reason is being HERE by interacting with it; recording its beauty.   I suppose even the page itself is fleeting; crossed-out words, trashed poems before heading to the next page.  But, sometimes, what remains are the flashes of crafted words to stand up to the unreliability of human memory.

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