Portrait of Memory

That night, the clouds gave the moon the look
of a misshapen tulip, a singular garden glowing white
in the blackness. The leaves –which at one time

had wafted from great heights, their limbs outstretched
in mourning – lay fresh-pressed to the earth, the smell of rain
tattooed on the dark landscape.

There was nothing unusual, no clear augury
declaring we’d fall in love. Only common details,
half of them invented.

Always we are looking for beginnings. Maybe this
is where it started. Or here. Here!
Everything afterward is an avalanche of pizza

and lost keys, days at the river, laundry.
Our gaze goes back and back. Oh, I should have
spotted it. As if there is a firm place in memory

to stand; as if fate is a man in a top hat
and purple cape sulking in the bushes,
fashioning stardust into hearts and arrows.

And what of those invented details? Maybe
the moon was the hollow bone of a bird,
the leaves were dry as ash. Maybe it begins

when we tell the story. Once
upon a time, a taxi beeped its horn.
A laughing woman in a beige trench coat

broke away from the crowd exiting the movie theatre,
the rhythm of her heels on the pavement momentarily gaining speed
under the moon’s ragged spotlight.

Nov 2, 2013

One of 30-poems-in-30-days