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If I Could Forget Myself

If I could forget myself,
would I have to remember those who starve, rage,
burn, decay, suffer the deaths of their children
and all that? Is that how God knows the fall
of each leaf, each sparrow feather -
by the completeness of His forgetting Himself?
(If he could become us, would that be
a complete forgetting of Himself?)

If I could forget myself
entirely for just a nano-second,
would I ever again be the one who forgot?
Would I still be able to choose to remember
myself again? Could I forget myself
without forgetting you? (You know
who you are, don't you? Surely you
haven't forgotten yourself!)

If I could forget myself,
would it really be a forgetting,
or just a turning outward - the glare of attention
in which I am fixed like a deer in headlights
becoming illumination, others made beautiful
by my presence or by the possibility
of my presence, even stars dreaming
of being seen in my light?

If I could forget myself,
what would I be forgetting?
How would I know I'd forgotten it?
Who would be forgetting?
Perhaps I forgot myself long ago,
remembering myself now
as a school child makes a stumbling mantra
out of a rote lesson on which today
there will be a quiz.

If I could forget myself,
would I lose weight? Would I not care
about that? Would I be able to be enthusiastic
about other people's poems? Would I be able
to taste simple air, water and awareness
without the flavor of irony?

If I could forget myself,
would I become a zombie, a vacuum,
a spot of chill at the edge of the party?
Would people, coming near, begin to forget
themselves?

If I could forget myself,
would others forget me as well?
Would I become invisible?
Or is it the other way around: Others
forget me, which makes me hard to see,
so I begin to forget myself? Or others
forget me, so, compulsively I remember me,
make of what I think others should see in me
a Rosary on which, each moment, I count myself?

If I could forget myself,
would mirrors amaze me? Each morning,
ambushed by an image, would I have to relearn
it's origin (see how this hand makes that hand
move - or vice versa?), or would mirrors
become surfaces merely, like TVs turned off
or a book to a cat?

If I could forget myself,
could I do it a bit at a time, gingerly,
as if tiptoeing into icy water? Could I forget
just a few moles first, then the roll of fat
over my gut, the love handles, then, maybe,
how I talk too much, have disappointed people
who loved me, as a child called a younger cousin
"fatso," as a teenager invented crazy elaborate
excuses and rituals for masturbation, how I need
to be clever.... Is any of that me? If I
forget it, will I be someone else?
When I greet you, is all that stuff greeting you,
like bags under my eyes? The worst of me is stuff
that already I have forgotten, because I hate
to think of it. If I could forget myself,
would I have to remember all the things
I've forgotten so that I could forget them?

If I could forget myself,
would I be a senile spirit, returning
from my night-time dream-haunts
to the wrong body, confusing myself
with old dead friends when I talk
to myself? Or, forgetting myself,
would I remember all else more acutely?
Would I be unanchored, each memory
a revisiting, like time travel?

If I could forget myself,
would there still be I? Would I
care about anything? Hope for anything? Fear?
Could gravity drag at me? Is there gravity
without memory? Would my desire to fix the world
survive? Would my desires be stronger and purer
without me?

If I could forget myself,
would the tensions in the hinge of my jaws,
behind my eyes, wherever in my body
I insist upon myself - would all these boulders
and arrows and bandages and twists and tugs
of pressure vanish? Or would they remain -
all that would survive of what I had thought
I was: just a body shell propped up
by push-pull beams of energy generated by...?
I don't remember how they are generated
or by whom. I think my memories
are coated with sticky black and white
energy, obscured by the beams used to cling to
and push away memory - of myself? How
would I know? Such forgetting would be
an accumulation of too much memory,
memory solidified and condensed to opacity,
memory become a kind of forgetting. That is how
I've forgotten myself - forgotten myself
by burying myself in all the muscular spasms
with which I cling to memories and delineate
myself and locate and anchor myself.

If I could forget myself another way,
just let go of myself,
let light and objects and thoughts
pass through me, be a presence, but not
a haunting of my body and the world, not
gnashing my teeth as a ghost rattles chains;
if I could forget that I am and must be
this or that (body, attitude, grimace, status...)
and become a capability of being, of becoming
whatever I see or think of, without fear
of losing myself or, really, of losing
you, if I could even forget that I write
these words for some "you" - I don't know
who - whose approval I crave; if I could forget
the aching for admiration, the way I suck it in
so hard I've become a black hole for admiration,
none of it able to escape me and touch others -

would I explode, fill the universe,
if I forgot myself? And what would I be
then? What would the universe, full of my
forgottenness, be? An infinite serpentining
question mark?

I think if I could forget myself,
I could forget this universe as well,
this taut web of agreements, as energized
as the pressures around my body,
but these are the pressures we enforce
on each other. What I'd expand into
would be another universe, one I've forgotten,
my own, and there, one day, picking up a stone
in a brook, I'd rediscover this universe.
Perhaps I'd put it in my pocket and
take it home.

c. Dean Blehert

Last Updated: November 22, 2006