Lost in the Memory Palace
I found my brother in the attic
of the memory palace
hunched over our old Silvertone
under rafters where late afternoon
light streamed through a gable vent.
His face wavered in a haze of dust.
Before I could speak he looked
up and raised a finger to his lips.
The sound of wind was the soft
southern voice of Red Barber
broadcasting a Dodgers game.
Ol’ Duke’s easy as a bank of fog.
It wasn’t supposed to work
like this. I should know where I’ve put
people to find them in a heartbeat:
Father buried long ago in the cellar,
mother at the piano in the parlor,
brother eating Velveeta before
the open fridge. But then
just this morning — I think it was
this morning — my father stumbled out
of the library where he would never
be found. He had a book in hand,
the title concealed by his fingers,
and was smiling in a way I never saw
him smile before. I almost missed him,
thinking the short man with the bald
spot gleaming as he turned must be me.
I don’t remember my brother
doing anything like that scene in the attic.
No secret corners of rooms, no hunching
over radios, no hushed moments I recall.
He filled his spaces, and was gone
whenever I couldn’t hear or see him.
And now I don’t know where
my mother is because she seems to be
everywhere at once. I can hear her
in the parlor playing the opening chords
of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,”
but instead of singing she screams
from the living room where a smudged
fingerprint has been found on a low
credenza we never owned.
She also waits at the bottom of the ladder
I used to climb into the attic, arms
akimbo, smoke from her Chesterfield
drifting up to mingle with the dust.
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