Lethe, Downstream


After all, the memories must go somewhere
When the synapse-lightning flickers out
And all is dark and silent.
Souls cross Lethe,
Touch foot to the far shore,
Touch lips to the glass
And are relieved,

But physics tells us nothing is destroyed;
Mass and energy transform and merge
But nothing disappears.
And anyone will tell you memories
Are that: all energy or weighty mass
A lift or press: bright wings or stone or clay.

So do the faded waters cloud, or warm
Or is there singing loosed with every sip?

More probable, as is the way of things,
They break down slowly into smaller parts.
At first, complex: my sister as a child,
Her face turned upward, rosy still with sleep,
Wraps both small hands around a steaming cup of cider.
Then broken smaller: just the spicy heat of gingersnaps.
The moon on snow.
And soon, and smaller still, dissolved to scraps:
Dry fragrant green.
A warm hand.

And somewhere not too far, a man will pause,
Downshifting as he navigates a curve
Across some nameless river in the fog,
And catch the sudden scent of cinnamon.

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L.A. Batzler
L.A. Batzler is a teacher in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. When she is not buried under mountains of grading, she can be found reading, writing and dancing.


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