Chemo Side Effects: Memory

Where is the word I want?

in the thicket,
about to pinch the
berry, my fingerpads
close on

I can hear it
scrabbling like a squirrel
on the oak's far side.
Word, please send over this black stretch of ocean
your singular flare,
your topaz in the mind's blank.

I could always pull the gift
from the lucky-dip barrel,
scoop the right jewel
from my dragon's trove....

Now I flail,
the wrong item creaks up
on the mental dumbwaiter.

No use—
it's turning
out of sight,
a bicycle down a
Venetian alley—
I clatter after, only to find
gondolas bobbing in sunny silence,
a pigeon mumbling something
I just can't catch.

Elise Partridge, "Chemo Side Effects: Memory" from Chameleon Hours. Copyright © 2008 by Elise Partridge.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.
Source: Chameleon Hours (University of Chicago Press, 2008)
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