The Waters of Lethe
The brain flies in two directions
like a clash of wills
or one horse pulling west
another east, like the time
I left out the knife in a family story,
my sister reminding me what I’d forgotten.
Don’t you remember?
And in an instant we’re both on the steps again
after the police arrived, the man with the knife
taken away, the two of us
shaking like tortured turtles in Hades
wanting to return from the underworld.
When I tried to write about it decades later,
I was steeped in Lethe’s slumber,
leaving the frightening facts
in the cave of Hypnos, the god of sleep.
For a long time, I left that instrument
of a would-be death concealed
in a chamber after drinking the waters
of oblivion. Where do our erasures go?
When we bring them back
are we then free? Or is my writing
friend in a memory unit the unencumbered
one, with drops of Lethe’s waters sprinkled
across her empty and confused mind?