13:2: “The Memory-Thief”, by A. J. Odasso and Dominik Parisien

13:2: “The Memory-Thief”, by A. J. Odasso and Dominik Parisien


The remembering is my Lethe
the cleansing of my crime
a trivialising of the theft;
but it is rare. There is much forgetting
and no great losses.
I am not as my vile siblings;
my love is the inconsequential:
an unremarkable kiss;
the flavour of a licked kindergarten chair;
the font on a wayside dinner menu;
an arrowhead of a word, sharp
as chipped obsidian, now magnificently dull.

The cortex is the center of loss
a manufacture of ideals and distortions
where I collect the lovely scraps.


The thread on which I hang my heart
has worn thin. I’d love my betrayers
as bidden I’ve been, but forgiveness
wears thinner. I walk curb-stones
like tight-ropes, grasping at tendrils
of morning glory ghosts: this child
who crunched snail shells and lead
between her outstretched palms
has fled. Dogged, down alleys
I chase her; this voice, my mother
minding us—we collared strays
could only run so far. I learned
to shoot a bow and arrow, cut
both chain and buckle. We face
consequences now with something
resembling grace. And we pray—

O Memory, bless me. One brief

breath of smoke to the wind

is all I have been.


There is a spectre of greater selfhood
gathering in the kleptomaniac
conglomeration of minutiae I keep:

     old buttons, black keys; words breathed
     too often fade in wonder; I wish for sleep
     to come as I speak, trail seeking fingers,
     dust till dawn (old sorrow, black dreams)

All thieves are porous; we know monoliths
are made of the miniscule and all things
comprised of a thousand thefts. We know minds
are the weakest of moorings for the me. And still
we steal, carry close invasive otherness, however
small. In the silence, we cannot but choose

     to fall down darkness to forgetting: once, I knew
     your every byway to the last worn stone
     and the heaviness your heart bore in lieu
     of heaviness hidden—we both loved best

the very tales we cannot have.

A. J. Odasso’s poetry has appeared in a wide variety of strange and wonderful publications, including Sybil’s Garage, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, Cabinet des Fées, Midnight Echo, Not One of Us, Dreams & Nightmares, Goblin Fruit, Strange Horizons, and Stone Telling. Her début collection, Lost Books (Flipped Eye Publishing, 2010), was nominated for the 2010 LNPA Best New Poet Award and for the 2011 Forward Prize, and was also a finalist for the 2011 People’s Book Prize. Her two chapbooks, Devil’s Road Down and Wanderlust, are available from Maverick Duck Press.  She is Poetry Co-Editor at Strange Horizons.

Dominik Parisien’s poetry has previously appeared in Ideomancer, as well places such as Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, Tesseracts 17, and Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, amongst others. He is the poetry editor for Postscripts to Darkness and provides editorial assistance to Cheeky Frawg Books.

They say:

Memory is a subject we both enjoy exploring in our respective work, so it felt natural to collaborate on a poem that dealt with that theme. Otherwise, the poem came together rather organically; we treated it like a dialogue in that we passed the file back and forth, each of us adding new content until the point at which we felt that the exchange had reached a conclusion.

Photograph of hoarfrost in Niedersachsen, Germany, by Daniel Schwen, is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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