By April Lindner
Featured Art: Drawing – Collage by Joan Miró
Slowly at first, the arteries
in the brain’s finely spun net
narrow one by one
_____________to dead ends;
like the hand’s delicate motion,
__________a series of strokes
erase what took decades to write.
Difficult tasks forgotten first:
_______________how to merge onto a highway,
___________________knit a sweater,
_______________________buy a stamp.
Then the simpler ones,
___________________how to turn on an oven,
_______________________what goes in a cup.
_______________last names first,
__________________first names next.
_______________________What things are called:
__________________bronze statues rubbed
_______________________by passing hands.
Or maybe____________in high relief
_______________________but the tracks between
_________________seeing and knowing uncouple.
Strangers kiss her cheek, tuck her in,
thrust hands into her armpits,
walk her like a puppet from room to room,
bathe her, comb her stubborn black roots—
sigh at the same questions—
_______________________Is this my house?
_______________________Where have you taken my daughter?
_______________________Did my husband die?
—over and over, her voice
tightening like a wound spring.
The unraveling so much faster than the knitting.
Her days a long nap broken by trips
from bedroom to bathroom and back.
Like broth boiled down, she thickens to a single trait
—the others lift from her like steam—
a tendency toward nerves
turned to raw panic.
_______________Don’t put me away.
_______________________Don’t tie me to the bed.
_______________Where’s my baby, what happened
__________________to my children?
One night she screams the neighbors awake,
syllables flattened to a howl.
Hands scratch the air and her eyes
_______________________admit an emptiness
the wind blows through.
April Lindner is the author of two books of poetry, Skin, which received the Walt McDonald First Book Prize from Texas Tech University Press, and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (published by Able Muse Press). She also has written three Young Adult novels, all published by Poppy/Little, Brown Young Reader. A professor at Saint Joseph’s University, she lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.
Originally appeared in NOR 5