One Poem by Bill Abbott

Self-Paralysis of Memory

“…When my mother dies,
if I am still alive, I will slouch
on my knees as though in prayer, I will
write one or two poems, then I will
no longer think of her.”
-Neil Hilborn

Back from the funeral,
I erect walls of memory in the form of
boxes and picture albums
full of her stuff.

My daughter, bothered by the clutter,
suggests moving the picture albums
to the basement, out of the way of everyone.

I seize up. I scramble through
my scrambled thoughts, trying to
find enough words to explain why not
to move the walls. Why not to hide away
all of the new memories freshly gained
from the edge of that frontier.

Her ashes are only recently buried,
and I’m hiding her away?
People are moving on
and moving away and
losing touch and forgetting,
and I’m moving the very physical
memories of her out of sight?

But there are no words, no reasons
for the young, that don’t get her
dangerously close to loss as well.
In the end, it was a battle I’d have to lose,

The past has space in the basement,
in the spaces rarely traveled.


Bill Abbott is the author of “Let Them Eat Moon Pie,” the history of poetry slam in the Southeast. He has been published in Ray’s Road Review, Radius, The November 3rd Club, Flypaper Magazine, and The Sow’s Ear. Mr. Abbott lives in Ohio and teaches creative writing at Central State University.

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