False Memory

By Matthew Wimberley

“The difference between false memories and true ones
is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones
that look the most real, the most brilliant.”
–Salvador Dali

Later, they will say with the casual
diction of old enemies of course the marriage
was doomed
—but no thing is final
when I can make this place up
one breath at a time.
It is still late—somewhere
not dissimilar from here
the lagoon I will come to
remember is only a bog a bird skims
so the air between her wing
and the surface has made
an indentation—carved out
a little ravine into this memory.
So, the water is cooling wax
a child will pull his finger through
in a future where he watches,
voiceless, sitting up at the table
in a high chair while the adults
argue about some other world.
In front of him he will think
the amaryllis arranged in a vase
in the center of the table,
though it will be years before
he has a word other than “flower,”
looks flimsy, looks wrong
in the candle light and the flame
is kind of trying to say something
waving back and forth like a stranger
across a street whose whole body
becomes a shout—whatever happened
or happening is unseen, something
you cannot know
and beyond any language
but this panic and this flicker.
Say nothing has gone wrong. Say
it is thirty years ago. It is still
late—somewhere my parents
have just kissed. It is the day
before I am born.