"Making love, it's always as if it were happening for the first time, I said after ten years of marriage.." 


Robert Sward

Robert Sward

Mr. Amnesia

Even an amnesiac remembers some things better than others.
In one past life I was a subway conductor
for the Chicago subway system.

In another I was--Gosh, I forgot!
Anyway, some years ago, I was run over
by a sports car.  Ever since that time

I find I cannot go more than a few days
without leaving my body at least briefly
and then coming back to it.  Again and again.

I can't seem to stay in Chicago or in any city,
for that matter, and in one body,
for very long.

I once wrote a forty-nine line poem
made up entirely of first lines, forty-nine beginnings.
"Forty-nine Beginnings" it was called.

I once met a young mother who had gone fishing
with her two children.  Coming up from the bottom
of Lake Michigan, I got tangled up in their lines

And they pulled me out and saved my life.
The woman was my wife and the children were my children.
"Making love, it's always as if it were happening

"For the first time," I said after ten years of marriage.
"When a woman chooses an amnesiac as her husband,
she has to expect things like that," she laughed.

"Still, there's a lot to be said
for ten years of foreplay."
An Instructor in Modern Poetry, I once lectured

For four weeks as if each class was the first class
of a new year.  When the genial Chairman,
manifesting polite alarm,

Visited my classes, the occasion of his being there
gave me the opportunity to teach
as if those classes, too, were new classes.

Promoted, given a raise, a bonus and a new two-year contract, 
even I was confused.  Each class I taught became one
in an infinite series of semesters, each semester

Lasting no more than fifty minutes.
I don't know about you, but I hardly unpack
and get ready for this lifetime and it's time

To move on to the next.  I've been reincarnated three times,
and am forty-nine years old and I don't even know my own name. History is just one of those things

You learn to live without.  I live in a city
the entire population of which is made up of amnesiacs
so for the first time in three lifetimes I feel at home.