Three poems from the book : Lessons in Forgetting by Malaika King Albrecht*
Lessons in Forgetting
Light a cigarette
while another one
burns in the ashtray.
Lose keys, your purse,
credit cards, earrings,
reading glasses, the way home.
Call your daughter your sister’s name.
Call the puppy
the dead dog’s name.
Hit the gas
instead of the brakes.
Slam into the van in front of you.
Turn the wrong way out of the bathroom.
Stand in front of the wall looking for a door.
Yell, My bedroom is gone.
Say you don’t have
children or a husband
and want your daddy.
Learn to see dead family members
in the dark. Over
and over, call to them.
Where I Find Her
She’s in a bite of my Irish stew
and a sip of old coffee.
She’s in my kitchen in her Self-Portrait
with Phone in a cadmium red sweater.
She hangs in my closet
in a favorite hand-me-down dress,
in the gardenia soap my sister gives me,
and in the curled M of my handwriting.
She’s in the whippoorwill’s call,
the erratic flight of the woodpecker
from the longleaf pine to the oak
and its ghostly knock-knock-knock.
She’s in the car that peels out
in front of me, so that I catch the license plate
with her name Patsride.
She’s the stoplight that gives me a moment
to enjoy roadside forsythia,
its yellow lack of restraint.
I find her in a brown speck in my eye,
the half moons of my nails, the slight gap
between my two front teeth.
She’s everywhere, even my sleep
where she walks again. But she’s not
in that body with its broken window
of a smile and its every day
She’s Forgotten that She Used to Smoke
How often did she singe her eye brows
leaning too close to the small blue ring
of fire from the stove’s gas burner,
a cigarette dangling from her lips,
drunk on boxed white wine?
Because it’s June 6, we give Mom
birthday wine in a baby bottle
and a single chocolate square.
She does not ask for more.
No candles or even cake.
She sleeps, her mouth
open like she might speak.
In the dark kitchen, the pilot light
is a single blue eye,
blue as the spark that strikes
us alive and burns through
our lives like we’re paper.
The same flame
that will extinguish
with her last exhalation,
a soft white moth lifting from her mouth,
wheeling upwards from this hospital bed,
drunk on light,
a wisp of smoke on her lips.
* Lessons in Forgetting is scheduled for release in early May. The cover price will be $7, but by ordering it online from the publisher's website, you can get it for $3.50 plus shipping. Here is a link that will take you directly there: http://www.mainstreetrag.com/MAlbrecht.html