On Burglary (or what’s been taken away)
What is given, I clean carefully.
And what is taken away,
I struggle to remember.
All that is stolen remains selfish: variably audible to memory.
What I have cleaned, have washed up, I place carefully
away. To hide something is to prevent it from being stolen.
But then also to forget where it has been hidden.
It is hard some days keep washing, to get
out of bed and take a shower.
After a while, if you cease to bathe,
your hair adjusts to this condition
and no longer looks dirty.
Keeping is cleanliness,
and realizing all that has been stolen
helps to prove that theft
has its own taxonomical system.
Teleological. Dirtied teoleology.
We remember what we forgot was taken in order
to categorize its cost, of which the thing itself has no recollection.
To re-impose the cleanliness of order proves
memory as insurance
that will reimburse a portion of the loss.
Theft induces not only loss
I have lost my taxonomy, my soap and water, and my way.
Were we to rank them,
the losses of highest value are those that have come closest to the body—
hands, caresses, a voice, even
A smell now gone extinct.
Ironically, we would have to acknowledge that these, by their very proximity to the
body are the items that are most unclean.
(I do not know exactly where I am now staying.
the mockingbird obtrudes at 4 a.m. with its perfect memory for what it has
heard, though what it has stolen
has negative value because its memory is so impeccable.
That is, there are forms and forms
I wake up to find tiny grains of black sand adhering to the sheets.)
I wanted back my eyeglasses and my address book
but also the belief that soaking in a tub of hot water would take away something that
I wanted taken away.
Politeness is a form of cleanliness that has very little efficacy.
I am too good at hiding what I do not want stolen and
my courtesy to myself remits nothing.
Apparently, there is no corresponding taxonomy of finding.
I would like the words back which have been impounded indefinitely
What I notice in the aftermath of all
that’s been taken away, like license, is exactly this pollution of memory.
How I am implicated in guilt of what I did not do. How I recall protecting the
thing by secreting it. What color,
I was asked, was the thing that was stolen, when
I had conscientiously bleached it. And the half
that was left behind lost value because it was no longer complete.