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A Shelf Alone

by Ken Harnisch

And which of us was blessed the more?
You, who remembered only what she wished to
Or me, who never forgot a thing

I can look back and mutter chapter and verse
Upon my jaded tongue, while you speak, when
You speak at all, of visions in soft pastels that
Are all muted through the prism of a cataract mind

It allowed you a certain level of altitude. Not
Necessarily an above-it-all mentality, but one
In which memory did not provide a roadmap
To context or walk you, if only once, down
The Road not Taken

On the other hand I read biography
In your eyes, and see clearly everything from
The day we met to the day we didn’t.

You remember a song you say is my hallmark, while I only
Knew its position on the Billboard charts, and note
To myself that there were ten other songs
I loved then as much as you.

A blessing or a curse, to put your past
On my internal DVR and play it every time
We talk. To note how few steps separate
The girl from the woman grown, leaving me to smile
When you swear you’ve come so far.

And yet you have, and so have I
My heart no longer quickens when you speak
Nor does my stomach twist at the mere sight of
You on a city street. I applaud the march of time
While wondering when, exactly, I became
So wise and old that even the memory of You
Can’t move me?

So I admit you occupy a shelf alone
In the vault, and that all who came before
And after could not flame the heart as
Bright as you. But because you don’t remember,
Or pretend you never did, it is a conversation
We’ll never have, and more’s the pity for that

I know so much about you that you need to learn

10/13/2011

Posted on 10/13/2011
Copyright © 2021 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Alison McKenzie on 10/13/11 at 04:54 PM

I especially liked "cataract mind". The way you described the changes of your feelings over time almost sounded like detachment, but not exactly yet. Thank you for writing this.

Posted by Kristine Briese on 10/13/11 at 07:25 PM

Beautifully sad, almost nostalgic. Lovely piece of work.

Posted by Sal Haefling on 10/14/11 at 07:50 PM

Wow, this is astounding. Nice to meet you :)

Posted by Laura Doom on 10/16/11 at 07:25 PM

I guess selective memory is a survival mechanism for some, and its consequences voice a question that you've introduced, effectively, provocatively even, to the reader for resolution. Having said that, I can't recall who is more blessed, or why :>

Posted by Lori Blair on 01/05/12 at 08:39 PM

What an amazing piece..thank you so much and I am so glad I read this today! Hugs!

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