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Published on Feb 4, 2016
The Forgetting by Forrest Proper
I had packed those remembrances tightly into a box years ago- a calendar page torn from the May 12, 1982 local music section of the Boston Phoenix, a ticket stub from a concert at the Paradise featuring the original Pretenders, a magic-marker scrawled ‘PS All Ages Shows presents Husker Du at Pulaski Hall in Easthampton’ handbill, six dusty cassette tapes- they were all stuffed in and duct-tape sealed, hidden away in the back corner on the bottom shelf of my closet.
In those days our rock and roll gods died of overdoses, not old age, sweet dreams were made of hope for a sky-soaring future, a sky not darkened by clouds hiding regret-spawned nightmares of what’s now past.
I sat down to write a poem about that and my remembrances were sidetracked by the rhythm of the words as they clattered over synapses like frothing stream water over rocks landing in murky flashback pools; then they escaped, and exploded all over the page.
Your existence is first betrayed by the catch in my voice in the fifth line of the second stanza, and then it is confirmed by the fact that by the third stanza the poem is pouring down my face, and I’m grasping on the stage for the comfort of the forgetting.
Give me back the forgetting. The poem tore it away.
It surprises my friends to learn that the only pictures I have of you are in my mind, images from junior high, high school, internships, road trips, concert gigs, radio daze, and the day I stood, silent as the falling snow, at the cemetery, on a day which was both the 25th anniversary of my birth and the 1st anniversary of your death.
Those remembrances I had packed tightly into a box years ago- trying to learn the forgetting, forgetting, forgetting that after all those days of soaring dreams, on that hard February night when you looked up to the stars, and then you leapt into the sky from the edge of that Minneapolis bridge, you knew with absolute clarity that you could not fly.