[from Gk. a- not, lethe forgetfulness, oblivion]
It’s the opposite of amnesia, where you lose
your memory along with your mind.
Aletheia is being unable to forget.
Some speculate that it may be contracted
from sexual contact with elephants.
Other theorists believe that aletheia is
an infection from the stars,
carried annually by the Perseids,
or that you can catch it by opening
your mouth wide for snowflakes.
It means never losing anything.
I’ve never been late because I couldn’t find
the car keys or the directions, never missed
a doctor’s appointment, never lost my credit
cards or my way, never left my purse
in an out-of-state McDonald’s, never had a word
melt and vanish on the tip of my tongue.
I’ve still got the obstetrician’s slap,
my diaper rashes, all my vaccinations,
every night terror, sore throat and hangnail,
each dead hamster, the cat who
never came home, both grandmothers’ funerals
(one impinging only as twelve years of itchy sweaters
that always mercifully shrunk too small to wear,
the other one’s crumbling descent from cookies
and a kind heart into incontinence and rabid fear),
fifteen summers of skinned knees,
noogies and Little Moron jokes,
nine pink 4-H consolation ribbons,
the homework my dog pissed on,
two schools of locker-room sadists,
the default major, the medical school rejections,
each thrust of less-than-optimal coition,
an eidetic image of every news atrocity since 1956 or so
and every single fashion, beauty, diet
and health tip that ever sold a magazine;
I’ve yet to see an article suggesting
exercises to lose one’s memory.
(TEN SIMPLE TRICKS TO REMEMBER LESS IN 30 DAYS!
NEW IMPROVED INSTANT ALZHEIMER’S
REDUCES BRAIN CAPACITY EASILY & QUICKLY!
SIMPLE ANTI-MEMNONIC ROUTINE
WORKS WHILE YOU SLEEP!)
All of recollection’s little pigeonholes
are stuffed tight, but nothing ever falls out
no matter how much Time tamps in.
The attic of my life is filled with junk
that no one wants and I can’t give away
(white elephants remember best),
burying treasures under toppling heaps of rubbish.
Each bright-eyed baby stifled beneath hours of labor,
every drugless contraction unbearably in the now.
I won’t rummage through the sad debris to see
if under IRS forms, decaying banana peels,
mortgage offers, advertising circulars
I might find that I’ve thrown out the check,
torn up the winning ticket by mistake.
I don’t read horror fiction any more,
watch scary, sad or violent movies, or the news.
The Tragic Muse can keep her depressing poems
to herself; my own blues are enough.
The memories that other folks manage to lose
are leprous beggars handing me their oozing paper bags
bulging with putrid grease and cat shit.
As I root through my own dumpster
I turn my back and mutter
no please go away get lost I refuse
©2000 F.J. Bergmann
"Aletheia" appeared in Spire—Spring 2003.
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