Optical Illusion

The sun glints in the rear view

and spotlights a trash bag in the back seat

 

My eyes are pierced by a flash of white

and I mistake the bag for an intricate cobweb,

a creature’s hard-fought work of art

 

When my pupils adjust, it’s only plastic

and I wonder if I could ever see beauty

where there is garbage,

if I could ever look back and see boxes

filled with treasure and laughter

instead of mismatched socks and uncertainty

 

I’ve learned how to pack properly

how to fold clothes neatly

how to separate the pots from the pans

how to throw out tired utensils

but I can’t throw out the tired memories

no matter how much they exhaust me

 

I heard once that men are compartmentalizers.

They can tuck information into filing cabinets

and store them in the recesses of their brains

and control when anything is retrieved

 

But I am a [insert derogatory reference to psyche] woman

so when I see a cardboard box, my neurons scream

“abort, abort!” and suddenly I am 8 years old

and everyone is screaming

and we have two weeks to leave

 

and I don’t know where we’re going

 

and I don’t know if we’ll be together again.

 

People tell me not to look back

as if it’s a matter of fact,

as if it’s a decision you can make

even when the sun is behind you

and you can’t see what’s ahead.

 

Then and now and later are a blur

of here and there and fact and fiction,

but I finally realize it’s an optical illusion,

so I’m not running away.

 

01-06-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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