“At the Mercy of My Own Forgetting,” “The Rent I Pay” and “By the Dead Purple Lady”

At the Mercy of My Own Forgetting

declares the forgetting man
under the florescent lights
his face shadowless
in a shadowed world
that he knows where it is
once and for all

his Mountain Dew overflows
all down the cupboards below
the soda station
a fountain of oblivious distress
he lays ghosts at his feet
who mumble and beg for permanent rest

“don’t forget a tasty treat” he expels
and he waves toward me and
a rack of Funyuns
his Butterfly tattooed arm
branding me a forgetter too
I am stunned that I have neglected to

anticipate Butterflies all this time and
that her voice is more than a bunch
of tiny oxide particles
embedded on a
long strand
of polyester

“don’t shift things about” the forgetting man insists
but I did this very thing last year when we moved
and until this Butterfly moment
I thought that I had vanished forever
her Wisconsin 'yahs,' her shit the bed comments,
her voice

declares the forgetting man
under the florescent lights
his face shadowless in a shadowed world
that he knows where it is
once and for all
more Mountain Dew surrenders itself

at his feet in pools of ice
I abandon his isle
the ghosts he lays at his feet
scream at me
“don’t forget a tasty snack!”
a smile claims my lips

as he whoops
a warning “don’t shift things about!”
I know I’ll find
her tucked away
in the Butterfly box at the back
of my nightstand wedged next

to the dream in which
she insisted that I would be okay
as long as I don’t search
for things unbearably gone
or waste away at the mercy
of my own forgetting.

Written during an incident at the Circle K in which I remembered where I had stored the cassette tape of me interviewing my Nana for a family history project just weeks before she died in a car accident.

The Rent I Pay

in the freezing rain
the trails are
littered with
owned or owed

portions of my mind
a brain trying to supply
itself with expectations
tongue turned poised

to carve
eyes aching for clarity
blades of thought
twisted inward

deep in debt
with nothing left to give
to my slumlord
of decomposing falsehoods

I have banished
over and over
deception, I name
you my preaching cheat

there’s a Judas among me
I empty piles of me
into these woods
a temporary installment

with interest
the rent I pay on these lies is steep
on my way back
the rain on the ice

rather sounds like applause.

By the Dead Purple Lady

You could no more take
the green from grass
or take the dark from night
than you could take
the purple from the
dead lady you made me touch
her unbothered hands
sincere in their end.

There is no such thing
as funerals
for children in a world in which
adults are consumed by the denial
of faeries in their tales
so full up on misconceptions about
the nature of death and
the nature of children.

All of your anguish in life
was wasted on you
because you never
learned to be wretched and
your sermons possessed
you. There was no saving
yourself. No exorcism of you.

You just let strange and inappropriate
expectations masquerade as love
and you made me into what you
expected and needed
at the time. You contained multitudes
from your life of you
and no one knew if they were
witnessing a ruination or a rumination

when you grabbed me
by the hand to kneel
by the dead purple lady
in the crate with the sincerely
finished hands
and then demanded
I repent.
And people just let you.

There were unnamed demons
flying everywhere.

About the Author

Melissa Mulvihill

Melissa writes from northeast Ohio where she lives with her husband and sons, 18 and 22. She has been published in multiple issues of The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, The Blue Nib Intermission, The Write Launch Literary Magazine, Poet's Haven Digest, Strange Land Anthology, The Distance Between Insanity and Genius Anthology, and in the Dark and Stormy Night Anthology. Her poem, Your Phone Call, appeared in The Blue Nib 2017 Anthology. She writes about living with the fallout from a decade of treatment for stage 4 endometriosis, growing kids, and moments that demand telling from everyday life.