Saturday Poem

The Conservation of Memory

The laws of physics being what they are,
nothing is ever really lost. The keys, the map,
the black cat you let out one morning to the backyard,
the favorite pen, the one sneaker, the child’s jacket,
the car jack you know you put back.
The universe stuffs each in its unruly attic,
ready to dole out in some other form
like a grandmother’s wigs for Mardi Gras.
That thought, too, recurs
and recurs like the dream you woke with
only to find over breakfast you couldn’t recall it.
It’s all somewhere, molecules morphing
from one matter to another,
the cat’s clean body turning to soil
courtesy of the maggot, the meal bug, the dung beetle.
All conserved and transformed, converted,
but steady in their keeping, curling back in waves.
So, too, with memory, with headaches,
with the broken ankle and the pain
of a broken ankle, even with sorrow,
even the invisible soul, that cup of liquid condensing
into clouds and on the coldest days falling
as snow where the new filly drags her muzzle,
then lifts her head, her eyes, the eyes of your great–aunt
or your second–grade teacher. A knowing
you know in the viscera. Echo. Eclipse.

by Bethany Reid
from Blackbird, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2010