The Warder of His Brain

by Annie Stenzel

When my father died, his memory died with him.
That great repository of a million things is gone—
the poetry in German, Italian, Greek; those railway
schedules from three score years ago; the dates

of anniversaries, birthdays of people whose names
hardly anyone even remembers.
You could ask him, what does Papageno say
in the second act of Die Zauberflöte? Or

Churchill’s comment about Gallipoli—how does that go?
Or items even more arcane and infinitely forgettable
like the year the transistor radio was invented. Who cares?
one might wonder (and occasionally we did) but now

the loss of that odd multitude
is part of the sorrow. Now no one else knows
what accounts for the quick frisson
each Fifth of October brings. And the amber brooch

I wear on the black wool jacket—who gave it to whom?
and what for? You will remind me, maybe, how terrible
it might have been otherwise, had his memory
died before he did. And it’s true: I do thank goodness

he escaped his sister’s fate, the one who can’t
remember where she is, who I am, or that she ever had
a brother who could quote the Bard
on any subject, by the hour.

Headshot_Author_Poetry_AStenzel 20141124Annie Stenzel‘s poems have most recently appeared in the print journals, Catamaran Literary Reader, Quiddity, and Ambit; in anthologies titled, Patient Poets and Ten Years of Medicine and the Arts; and in the online journal, Unsplendid. She has work forthcoming in Lunch Ticket and Right Hand Pointing. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is also a letterpress printer, never happier than when her hands are covered in ink. She works at a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco, but lives across the Bay.

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