Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Memory of Museum of Memory
for Alice

I think there was a girl. No, not a girl,
a woman. No, not exactly a woman,
a . . . cusp. Yes, I have it now, that’s right,
the woman, that was me, a careful museum
of denim skirts and upswept hair but this other,
this becoming, she was combat boots and tangle,

no, wing tips and houndstooth . . . wait. I’ve tangled
things up again, haven’t I? Could that be a girl?
No, I’ve got it, it’s just that she is just so other,
all transition and artifice bending toward woman,
chimera emerging from youth’s wallpapered museum
into an arm’s-length shove back aimed right

at the face of this Central Park homecoming rites
small town—what? I’m not there anymore? I’ve tangled
that, too? Is this even a where, or just a dusty museum
of whens? Never mind, I’ll just forget again, but this girl,
she’ll find this here, this when, this equinox into woman,
I know she knows how to slip between the musts that others

cling to, scared me so badly the day—it was just the other
day, wasn’t it?—she fled the field trip, vanished right
between the school bus diesel stink and the woman
ticking off names, trying to impose order on a tangle
of high school students, and now we are minus one girl
and how did I lose her that fast? It’s like the museum

just swallowed her, and now the sweatered museum
docents are peeling away with clusters of other
schoolkids, calves forced to follow, but this normally good girl—
no, look sideways past her dangerous decoys, it’s all right
there, straight As, one of the few constants in this tangle
of calendar squares starting to blur and fuzz—and this woman

who can’t even handle a handful of high schoolers, this confused woman
is me, isn’t it? But any minute now that museum
is going to cough back out that almost, that tangled
knot of girlwoman brimming with everything the bored others
didn’t see, only she devoured all the art that day, did it right,
and she’ll read the pride hidden in the reprimands, this girl—

no, she must be a woman by now, isn’t she? All that other . . .
the museum . . . that was years ago, wasn’t it? But she’ll write,
won’t she? Find me in this dusty tangle . . . I think there was a girl . . .  

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