“. . .not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen. . .”

A splash of color from my inamorato.

A splash of color from my inamorato.







One of my favorite poems about getting on in years is “Forgetfulness,” by Billy Collins, originally published in Poetry, 1990.
(You can hear it and watch an endearing video of it here.)

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 names of 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

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.

(Collins, Billy. Questions About Angels.  Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh Press, 1999. 20-21)

On Monday afternoon at about two, I sent my inamorato an email thanking him for the tiny gift of a miniature orchid. I’ve been trying to find potted flowers that will bloom in my apartment. I get no direct sunlight through my north-facing wall of window. He tells me not to worry about the sun. It will be fine in the indirect light.

I am amazed at the delightful splash of color one tiny pink orchid provides among the green of the non-flowering odd collection of plants in my living room.

My email message was problematic in one way. I teach a class at 2 PM on Mondays.  Don’t ask. I don’t know why. I’ve never simply forgotten to go to class before. The day will be one for a good laugh sometime soon, I trust. But on Monday, the memory of my schedule seemed to be “not even lurking in some obscure corner of [my] spleen.”

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