02 January 2011

And this is your brain on pregnancy

Though a poem about aging and its toils, this gem from Billy Collins nonetheless resonated with me, given the ongoing deterioration of what perspicacity I ever possessed. Collins is one serious, funny dude.


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never
even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.


Rebekah said...

Goldenrod! De Coleurs Ave. in Sparks! . . . frack, I know it's not La Paz . . . . :(

Leah said...

Brilliant. I'm pretty sure my brain hasn't ever recovered. Just the other day, I used a sentence with "selled." As in "The store selled the diced tomatoes last week." I think the future tense will be next thing I forget.

Melrose said...

ha. haha. hahahahahaha. Dummy Mommies Unite!!!!

Leah said...

Me: "Joh... Davi... Ros.. Dais...hey YOU!"

Child: "My name's Philip, Mom."

Me: "Well, whatever your name is, can you pick up that toy?"

Untamed Shrew said...

I frequently say to my 2yo, "NO, Zoe!"

Zoe is the cat.

MooreMama said...

I like to think that my kids stole all of my brains while they were in utero. It's the only way to explain their genius ... and my lack thereof.

Katy said...

@Shrew: We were recently dog-sitting my parents' dog, Rosie. My 11mo. son's name is Robert, often Robbie. I switched then ALL THE TIME.

Megan173 said...

The strangeness of pregnancy. Every night I think Oh I'll do that in the morning when I have more energy, only to wake up the next morning with full body nausea. And yes, I do this EVERYDAY!

Gauntlets said...

I will always love Collins for the line, "It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall".

That's right. That's where I'm floating. That's also why I'm unashamedly attached to Google. :D

etem said...

i put my wedding ring "someplace safe" in a moment of pregnant genius. i really wish i had my wedding ring back.