Thursday, January 04, 2007


US Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads his poem “Forgetfulness” with animation by Julian Grey of Headgear.

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

I thought this was appropriate for entering my 40th year and why I feel the need to start writing more things down. Perhaps it is also why after some time off from work I had to have my network password reset. Twice. Today I forgot the new one that I had made up yesterday to replace the old one.

There is another video of Collins' poem The Dead.


Churlita said...

So, when is your birthday? I love being in my forties - for real.

I was so spacey when I was younger, that now that I'm old and forgetful, it doesn't seem that much different.

Dexter said...

Feb 15th... I have never been one to agonize over calendar age and yet this is the first really big milestoen i think...