The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Susan Aizenberg

Charm Against Recollection


                 Forgetting is, I think, a form of protection.

                             Daisy Johnson


Forget the moon that night. Forget the sidewalk

  grates breathing steam, the stink and screech of iron

as the D train brakes. Forget the fraying curve


of the straps, those droopy O’s held by our young

  fathers as they swayed, half-asleep, tunneling

home from “the office.” Forget Jerusalem’s


old city, the men in fur hats davening,

  foreheads pressed to the wall, the teenaged soldiers

sipping Turkish coffee in the sun, Galils


cradled on their knees. Forget that other sun,

  its light reflecting off Lolita’s heart-shaped

glasses, Sue Lyon, at fourteen, projected


onto an enormous screen, the ratcheta,

  ratcheta of lawn sprinklers, her languid hip.

Forget the soap rainbow foaming your lover’s


back and haunches in the shower, the golden

  rims around his pupils. Forget Dubuque Street,

the glassy Iowa River. And forget


the slaughterhouse stench, the I-80 exit

  to the cemetery on the other side.

Forget the dirt pelting pine coffins, the moan


of the caretaker’s mower. Forget that space

  between the blinking cursor and the sad words

it hesitates before, and the one between


the edges of family photos and their frames.

  Forget the dancing astronauts, how they leapt,

boyish and giddy, to tag the virgin moon.




SUSAN AIZENBERG is the author most recently of Quiet City (BkMk Press 2015) and editor, with Erin Belieu, of The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women (Columbia UP 2001). Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in blackbird, Summerset Review, NAR, Bosque, and elsewhere. Her new chapbook, First Light, is forthcoming from Gibraltar Editions in 2020 in a limited, letterpress edition. She lives and writes in Iowa City and teaches in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.


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