Engraving of a dandelion by Elizabeth Blackwell, 1739. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.


If those without memory live nowhere
then the reverse must be true and

we live everywhere at once, in places
        exhumed, reanimated
so often we forget their names

We forget so much these days:

        which road took us to St. Mark’s
where the lighthouse was
                    the native names of rivers
        we threw ourselves into
pale buoyant bodies illuminating
ancient sinkholes
                    in woods we can’t recall
heat lightning guttering
                            in far-off clouds

How many years since
the rope swing
                    parabola leap

How many years
since the killdeer’s call bored into us



Our bodies are impressed
                              like wax

We smell rain
long before clouds appear

can name by scent the coy sweet olive tree
and the overbearing hedge of ligustrum

separate a cricket call
from the tin-whistle chorus of frogs

In sleep a slideshow of memory:
field of hip-high dandelion heads
                                        bursting as we run

roads wending through florid backwoods
the moon an outsized face pressed to glass

our feet on the edge of the sea wall
and the dim lives of fish carrying on
                                          somewhere beyond our sight

Wherever else we go we find the place
drawing us into itself, insisting
memory is a tether
                           not a carried thing



And this
              is a true story:
how once there was a door
impaled on the spidery limbs
of a strong young oak

A strange door
                    in a strange time

The oak unbroken
stretched fingers over still water
was ringed by objects crushed
like tin tea cups
                   like children’s things

The door was red
                    or seems to be
and seemed to say
Climb up the way you used to
Open me

I am the only way back home

Darby Price was born and raised in Slidell, Louisiana, and currently makes her home in Long Beach, California; her work has previously appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Redivider, and PANK, among others.
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