Our Forgetting

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Ridge and Valley: an exchange of poems

Dear Dave,

June light lengthens, pulled like string
from a ball of twine, or like days
in the far north, strands of hair so thin

night doesn’t come for months at a time.
With light that long, the eyes and the soul
must grow tired, as must the grasses

and flowers that emerge all at once.
We are made for motion and rest.
To be awake for days on end and then

to sleep, to sleep: it must be like climbing
down a shaft in the earth, dark crumbling,
then collapsing, until you find the edge

of the river that runs far beneath the ground:
waters undetectable to the eye, felt more
through the sound they carry than the caress

they finger over the soft skin on the inside
of the wrist. It is this kind of sleep
none can resist: why we disrobe, slide leg-first

into its current, blackness bearing more
than our bodies, our forgetting
of what continues well above our heads.

—Todd Davis

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Todd Davis (webpage) teaches creative writing, environmental studies, and American literature at Penn State University’s Altoona College. He is the author of three books of poetry - The Least of These (Michigan State University Press, 2010), Some Heaven (Michigan State University Press, 2007) and Ripe (Bottom Dog Press, 2002) - one chapbook, Household of Water, Moon, and Snow: The Thoreau Poems (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010), and co-editor of the anthology, Making Poems: 40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State University of New York Press, 2010). His poems have been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on "The Writer’s Almanac" and by Marion Roach on "The Naturalist’s Datebook," as well as by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column "American Life in Poetry." In addition to his creative work, Davis is the author or editor of six scholarly books, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade, or How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism (State University of New York Press, 2006) and Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory (University Press of Virginia, 2001). His latest book is an edited collection of creative nonfiction by poets writing about basketball.

4 Comments


  1. A real, even excellence throughout, and a real joy to read and read.

    in the far north. Strands of hair so thin

    Yeah. And what fun to say and say:

    felt more
    through the sound they carry than the caress

    they finger over the soft skin on the inside
    of the wrist. It is this kind of sleep
    none can resist: why we disrobe, slide leg-first

    into its current, blackness bearing more
    than our bodies,

    All those ss’s and st’s, and the just-right imagery.

    Happy solstice!

    Reply

    1. Peter,

      Thanks so much for relishing the language. There are poems where sound usurps sense (although in the usurpation let’s hope that some sense still survives). I had fun playing with the words to this one, swirling them around on the tongue and lips.

      Reply

  2. What an interesting exchange. This poem is full of vivid imagery and I must say as late as it is has me lingering near the edge of sleep now. Good night~

    Reply

  3. Michelle,

    Glad a poem could help you linger near the edge of sleep and then allow you to drift away on its current.

    I usually am reading a poem by a favorite poet–Galway Kinnell or Jane Kenyon–before drifting into sleep’s dreaming kingdom.

    Thanks for reading,

    Todd

    Reply

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