HOUSE OF FORGETTING

Place the objects related to the beloved, the lost, the untrusted, the mistaken, the shouldn’t-have-taken-the-pills, shouldn’t have left again, given in, mistrusted, re-trusted—in the house [that should be] as detailed as possible—the structure a castle, split level, old farmhouse, or other large architectural feat with multiple floors, rooms, eaves, closets, myriad of doors within doors.

Place the collection of items in the most precise location, one at a time, with proper ritual at dusk: the flannel shirt in a drawer in the antique dresser in the largest bedroom, the amethyst under the door in the floor of the basement, the ripped up letters in your father’s leather suitcase in the crawl space, the dead birds [eyes open] hidden in the attic eaves, the promise folded up multiple times in the dowry chest with the nails sticking out, the coffin for the dismantled dolls, the ones with the eyelashes cut, the arms bent back.

Place what needs to be forgotten, sterilized from fingerprint and tear, carefully under the orphan’s bed, in the hall closet, the pantry shelf, in the jar with the leftover money and candy for the blind man.

Trace your way back, etching the route indelibly in the labyrinth of the brain, not the intellect, not the place of childhood, not the laundry list. Memorize the layout of rooms, the curtains, the smell of cedar, oak, the lavender must.

Place the long fireplace match by the kindle. Concentrate while ripping the sandpaper [gloved], tossing the wooden match onto the heap at the hearth on the floor, staring directly into the roiling dragon-plume flames, orange tongues, devouring all vestiges, all recollection, all remnants of psychological fervor, all embrace. Destroy the evidence of what was thought to be real, fast-motion—spinning out desire’s disappointments into a blur, a burnish of burn.

Extricate from the moving tape, the field of vision. Delete the blueprints, lists of tedious plans that could all go awry. No hints of the weapons [the arson]. Take careful note: stone, concrete, and brick—will not burn. Replace the burnt photographs with new ones to ensure the erasure of images, the undoing of one or more of consciousness’ knots. Carried away by the evanescent grains of the hourglass, hanging dust from the horse’s mouth.

Erase the scent on every shirt the beloved wore, the sleeves waving back before they come undone before the reckless jump down the stairs to prompt the miscarriage, to end the ungodly routine. Find the way to tunnel out on another side of that lopsided creature, swallow upon swallow, lost bird after lost bird. Signatures erased or never witnessed: a conspiratorial back-dating of all the dots, then erased [the way], lines to the past.

Once the original house burns to the ground, revise, re-program, on as many strata as possible. Construct new houses without delay: House of Plan, House of Fortitude, House of I-am-done-licking the wounds, House of Where to Go Now.

[published in SPLIT ROCK REVIEW]

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