The Memory Game
“Find your secret, happy place,”
when Doctor yanked
at polyps unearthed
during a routine search
of the poor girl’s insides.
In such undignified a pose
as she was gently told to hold
happy places were beyond her mileage.
We once played a mnemonic game,
its goal to memorize a series
of at least a hundred random objects.
Here’s the trick:
You choose in your imagination
a beloved, sweet location,
the one place in the world that makes you smile.
From there you make a path
much like a baseball run
and then at special pleasant sites
you set the names of things in piles.
On a mossy rock lay Jewel,
Lion crouched under the willow tree,
a television floated on the lake
and silk scarf fluttered at your feet.
Around again, a Tooth on Jewel, a Fortress on the Lion’s back,
a Bracelet draped on the TV set, a toad squatting on silk.
Where was her happy place? Where did it go?
Maybe a park, a park—probably.
But where in your park are nasturtiums she asked for,
asked for nasturtiums, you give her flashers,
flashers with smirks and a few grim joggers
yelling into cell phones.
The park is desolate. Brambles and weeds.
A hot-dog man glowers, nips at a pint.
Ferns turned brown. The park yearns for fiesta.
Its sidewalks weep all the way to the street.
Nurse, nurse, tell this poor lady
splayed on the medical table,
why did you plan her city
around such a desolate park?