A Bed above the Abyss: Amnesiac Notebook

By Andrew Allport Andrew Allport
i. Awake
Each entry consisting of the statements
I am awake or I am conscious
entered every few minutes:
      2:10 p.m.: this time properly awake.
      2:14 p.m.: this time finally awake.
      2:35 p.m.: this time completely awake.
     At 9:40 p.m. I awoke for the first time, despite my previous claims.
This in turn was crossed out, followed by:
     I was fully conscious at 10:35 p.m., and awake for the first time
                 in many, many weeks.
This in turn was cancelled out by the next entry.
ii. Passport
How large it grew, that first kiss, until I could board it each night,
a raft drifting out into the quiet lake. After twenty years
the great amnesiac HM never recognized
his doctor, and after lunch
gladly ate another: Time for lunch, they would tell him again.
You must be starving.
God, I am starving.
Without a body, collection cannot precede
recollection: recollect a tongue, that skilled swirl
of its quick tip, a mouthful of familiars: smoke,
strawberry candy. Memory in the web
between dumbstruck and dura: dump and dune,
duplicates. What kind of game is this?
I’m no longer a boy,
HM would say to his reflection, the surprise on his face
genuine. What kind of game is this?
The mirror a passport like any other, its picture
out of time, a foreign shock of untamed hair
even the photographer declared beautiful then.
Then: the word smiles
like a stranger on your first day at school,
sitting on stone steps, worn with use.
iii. Taxonomy
Red but not bird comes to mind.”
                 Only the kingdom of living names
was missing there—bank, flagstone, sofa
                 remained, but not the blur at the feeder,
the undersea creature on the card—
                  it’s a danger, a killer swimmer,
they coaxed him—it’s called a
                  (waiting for the word to stir from its depth;
how could he forget the ones who dressed,
                  fed, taught him word by word
the order of the world? What noise does
                  that loss make?) (They looked suspiciously
like his parents, he thought: strangers posing
                  unanswerable questions)—
“It has no name, it has no need.”

Andrew Allport, “A Bed above the Abyss: Amnesiac Notebook” from The Body of Space in the Shape of the Human. Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Allport. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press.

Source: The Body of Space in the Shape of the Human (New Issues Press, 2012)

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Poet Andrew Allport


Subjects Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

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Andrew Allport is the author of the book the body | of space | in the shape of the human (New Issues Press, 2012) and the chapbook The Ice Ship & Other Vessels (Proem Press, 2008). He holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California, and his poems and essays appear widely. The poem “An Unknown Shore” first appeared in ZYZZYVA and was later reprinted in Best New Poets 2006. Its first three . . .

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SUBJECT Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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