I have only what I remember, Merwin writes, resigned not to a dearth
but an omnium-gatherum of memories—whether amorphous and unloosed
from time or firmly grounded and undimmed as though he’s again
playing, in the re-entered past, the protagonist in the theatre of life.
From time to time mine ambush me as I walk down the street in full daylight. Some
delight, others devastate, breaking through the frozen crust to re-inflame
buried pain. Still others flit past my inner eye like short-lived visual migraines.
Odd fragments seek me out in dreams, like last night’s. I held a younger
woman in my arms and told her I had paid a terrible price for not having children, but
she, with her two, should go on and fulfill her ambition. We found ourselves inside
a house under renovation. Behind a demolished wall, a laundry
had been discovered that easily could, we conjectured, be joined
to the kitchen. Outside there were explosions in the night sky, fireworks
in celebration of a Russian holiday, the face of a czar shattering
into icy glitter. And all the while the woman from next door was setting out,
onto her front porch as on a stage, three bottles of pink-tinted water.