Poem: How to Lose Your Memory, How to Never Get It Back

tube raid by Amanda Valdez

tube raid
Amanda Valdez
Gouache, Acrylic, and Fabric 20 inch diameter
2015

by Leigh Lucas

for Su Meck

In your former life, so you’re told, you were wild.
You threw yourself down stairs to end a pregnancy,
dropped out of school to marry, though your parents begged,
even though the wedding never happened, just more
unplanned pregnancies, only you started keeping them.

In your current life—after the accident—you’re not learning
quickly. Your kids speak for you, they raise you. When
they come home from school ask them: What did you learn
today?
They are patient. Reply: Do we know any Indians?
Who’s Abraham Lincoln? What was the Holocaust?

More and more, you manage on your own. You can add
simple numbers, no longer label the bleach POISON
to keep from confusing it with milk. But now existing
doesn’t feel like enough. You have learned about love
and can’t unlearn it. Nights you walk the halls

of your supposed home, opening drawer after drawer,
hoping to find something, anything, that belongs to you.
overhead, yes.

 

Leigh Lucas is a writer who lives in San Francisco. She is working on her first collection of poems.

Amanda Valdez is an artist based in New York. The recipient of residencies at Yaddo, MadDowell Colony, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and more, her work has been featured in solo exhibitions and publications such as Hyperallergic and Bomb Magazine. Her many group shows include “Time & Tide,” at Denny Gallery with Caris Reid.

This poem originally appeared in the Wild issue. For more inspiring poems and stories by women, check out Divya Victor’s “This Whiteness is Bob Saget” and our poetry section.