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Memory's Landscape

I remember the word and forget the word
                                                                               although the word
Hovers in flame around me.
Summer hovers in flame around me.
The overcast breaks like a bone above the Blue Ridge.
A loneliness west of solitude
Splinters into the landscape
                                                          uncomforting as Braille.

Charles Wright, from “Tennessee Line,” Chickamauga (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995)

“You can ask of land, as of weight, how much there is, but not what it is like. But where land is thus quantitative and homogenous, the landscape is qualitative and heterogeneous. Supposing that you are standing outdoors, it is what you see all around: a contoured and textured surface replete with diverse objects—living and non-living, natural and artificial […] Thus at any particular moment, you can ask of a landscape what it is like, but not how much of it there is. For the landscape is plenum, there are no holes in it that remain to be filled in, so that every infill is in reality a reworking […] one should not overlook ‘the powerful fact that life must be lived admidst that which was made before.’”

Tim Ingold, from “The Temporality of the Landscape,” World Archaeology (vol. 25, no. 2, October 2003)



“We are all cartographers in our daily lives, and we use our bodies as the surveyor uses his instruments, to register a sensory input from multiple points of observations, which is then processed by our intelligence into an image we carry around with us, like a map in our heads, wherever we go.”

—Tim Ingold, from “The Temporality of the Landscape,” in World Archaeology (vol. 25, no. 2, October 1993)

So memory is the absent
letting things slip
out of mind and sight
to make discovery

Gilbert Allen, from “To Forget It Creator Is One of the Functions of the Creation,” Driving to Distraction (Orchises Press, 2003)


(via memoryepsilon)

A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

Graham Greene, from The End of the Affair (Penguin Classics, 2004)

(via theballoonofthemind)



It is touch I go by,
the boat like a hand feeling
through shoals and among
dead trees, over the boulders
lifting unseen, layer
on layer of drowned time falling away.

This is how I learned to steer
through darkness by no stars.

To be lost is only a failure of memory.”

—Margaret Atwood, closing line to “A Boat,” Selected Poems II: 1976-1986 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987)

You have not forgotten to remember;
You have remembered to forget.
But people can forget to forget. That is just as important as remembering to remember—and generally more practical.

Idries Shah, from Reflections (Ishk Book Service, 1983)



There are rooms that know you, rooms you know
& can name, rooms that rise & stutter
into view if you stare long enough.
Rooms where nothing happened
but in your head, where the world went on
apart from you, you trying to rise to it.

—Brian Henry, from “Rooms,” Lessness (Ahsahta Press, 2011)

I don’t know which life I am living now.
A gentle wind leans into the trees. Evening
crawls up from the river bank. The words we never
say are looking for some path away from here,
maybe from that town a few hills over where
the leaves forget the earth that waits for them.

Richard Jackson, opening strophe to “Fear,” from Resonance: Poems (The Ashland Poetry Press, 2010)