THE MEMORY HOUSE

Think of it as a house
she told me at the beginning.
To go there, I have to close my eyes.
We build it week by week.
I have to do this on my own.
She cannot go with me.
Some of the windows are lit,
but most of the house is in darkness.
There is a high fence to climb over,
warning signs to ignore. Once inside,
I feel my way blind along the corridors
and try the handle of every door.
It is not my father’s house
but he is there with his anger
set off again. I saw him once through glass
but he could not touch me.
Sometimes my brother comes around.
I follow in the glow of all he knows.
He carries a bag fat with memories.
Was it your brother gave you these?
Perhaps I should speak to him.
The hour we keep is all we have together.
I bring her what I have found,
fixed in words on sheets of paper
scattered over the table between us.
What is memory and what is a dream
we cannot know for sure.
Be wary of dreams, she says.
They don’t lie but they are not the truth.
Remember, what is unreal
cannot be undone. I nod my head
to show I’ve understood.

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