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Ineradicable

Sigmund Grundle 1915-1996

He'll never forget their names: daughter
grand-daughter, sister, late wife.
He'll always know where he parked the car
and what he went to the store for in the first place.

The President's name, today's date, his favorite
brand of coffee—all etched
like the names of the dead in a granite wall,
alphabetical. Memory's like that, isn't it?—

dark gray wall, file cabinet, a great room
with newspapers piled in rows by date and place
all of them recording news of a life
from gossip column to missile attack to the daily puzzle.

Or, of course, it's a computer: cerebral megabytes
swallow the story chapter by chapter
until the hard drive crashes…
What he thought could never be lost, is lost:

names escape through paneless windows,
streets sprout unexpected turns
and faces float away from their old histories.
He turns his wheelchair to block the corridor;

nurses beg him to move but he waves them away
shouting in German. So much is erased
but this he'll remember and remember:
the camp; the guards; yellow star; dead mother.

Printed in the Fall/Winter 2003 issue of CLR

Judith Barrington

Judith Barrington is the author of two collections of poetry and a third is forthcoming. Her most recent book, Lifesaving: A Memoir was the winner of the Lambda Book Award and finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir.


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