Author | Michael Sandler
I acted childishly on that sunset ride
racing a helping tailwind, and time—
forgetful hiss of slicks on macadam,
the daydream clicking through spokes of an interim,
dunes and sea amorphous, the salt air blurred.
The medics said a pavement crack may have jarred
vestiges of control: the let-go bars,
a helmet thump, my sitting up to inquire,
Which way is home?, a vocal thrummed to tremors.
Kleos: renown from a feat heard by others, remembered
and passed along after the mind has crossed
an ephemeral boundary dividing
illumination and shade, me and not me,
for I’m like others in hoping some notable act
will be intertwined with my name, a monument
of family anecdote a child might recite, even if not
noteworthy to chronicler, blind poet, or Wikipedia,
something of account, as if an account
might be more than a screenshot flicking on
and off, its memory soon the lacuna in an arc
toward the unborn; or an attempt at art
impressing itself on a reader whose response endures
until it, too, dissolves and diffuses
in an ocean of text swelling from the unfathomed.
Still it would reassure to know
something of me has not slipped a mental sprocket
to be dragged by faceless shades on an unmarked course.
In the waiting room, a glossy brochure
reassures me that a sunset radiates
even as a day’s lessenings accrue—
the odd neuron misfires, a synapse out
like a cataract’s beclouding of a lens,
a crosshatching of crow’s-feet near the eyes,
my child’s face thickening, unrecognized—
or déjà vu? At last, a nurse summons
and bathes, salves my road rash, asks me the date,
where we are, to repeat a string of numbers
that seem to vanish in a gaping pit,
then says, Don’t worry, it’s not like Alzheimer’s,
though of course it is. A vacancy impaled
like a trepan in my life today—
won’t someone shout, You won the stage, as I smile
at the erased? What Hector did I slay?
I still recall some stories about an aunt,
a grandfather, but have let slip a slew
of events and names. I hear my kids lament
each revisit of those skeletal ruins…
and my blanking out about their childhoods
like a cyclist unable to stay attentive.
Beside the unclaimed dead at memory’s rim,
I look to them to keep my name from dimming.
About the Author
Michael Sandler’s poems have appeared in more than 30 journals, including California Quarterly, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Zone 3. For his day job, he works in the Seattle area as an arbitrator.