The Year I Lost My Mind
Why is it that we think
losing our mind must happen
all at once?
Conflating mind with brain,
perhaps, we think of it
as a unified whole.
When it goes, it must go
all at once.
Yet that’s not how it happens.
Instead it falls away
layer by layer
like dying leaves from an autumn tree:
Or like an orange peel sections
away from the heart,
pulling apart like the diamonds
of a Mercator map.
The getting-to-know-you game
in elementary school:
My name is Bobby. My name is
Tracy, and his name is Bobby.
Around the circle where the poor
last kid has to name them all.
But it was a getting-to-unknow-you game:
One day I couldn’t remember
the way to work.
Another day I forgot my
roommate’s name, and I couldn’t
remember the way to work.
The next day I couldn’t figure
out how the shower works,
I forgot my roommate’s name,
and I couldn’t remember the way
I dreamed my sister chased
college presidents around
the living room and hurled
chocolate pudding at them,
lung spoonful by spoonful.
Ha! Who’s the mad one now?
For all that, however, I can’t say it was unpleasant. The falling
away of knowledge didn’t seem
a great loss. At times I almost
looked forward to the next road
bump: I sat in my rocker
and watched pieces of me sail
off into the darkness. Good bye,
bon voyage: I didn’t bother to
ask, hey, where are you going?
When will you be back?
Blankness is a soft white blanket,
Who Can Say?
At first, I thought I was the catalyst for change: made you
dye your hair, borrow my blazer and take
the office job in Cambridge.
Thus taking secret credit for your success.
This time you’re dong it all on your own and not only
without me, you’re doing it to spite me.
No, in spite of me.
That’s one truth.
I was a duty you couldn’t quite shrug off.
I exasperated you.
Cast off, and appendage, a prosthesis you no longer needed.
Still, I keep track.
Who can say what I would do,
what I would have done, if I didn’t have you as a wall
to break myself against?
I’m impatient when there’s no news.
Oh, it’s radical to tell the story of peace all right.
But what do you know about that?
Your last letter, Germanic, full of convoluted nouns.
Taut enough to break diamonds.
A story set in the locker bays. What a laugh.
As if we were two cheerleaders arm-wrestling over a boy.
A knife blade in the back?
No nun loves her wounds more than you.