The Dissonant Music of Memory by Kika Dorsey

The Dissonant Music of Memory

I am weary of being the stories I tell about myself,
the one of Miller moths taking over the city and crowding

with their dusty wings around our yellow kitchen light,
the one of my father overdosing and passed out in a cornfield

in Indiana. I do not know if this is true. I just saw the firetruck
and police car on that hot Midwestern day and fed my sister

a fried bologna sandwich. But it may have been chocolate ice cream.
Maybe they found my father in a warehouse behind the pizza

restaurant the mafia owned, with its illegal smokers where
I used to drink tepid beer and play Blackjack. Or they found him

on the grounds of Notre Dame near the pond where I swam, and all the fish
kissed me, and it was dark, the moon hidden behind clouds.

I am weary of concocting lives and etching a self out of the black charcoal
of my ignorance, of excavating tools with my bare hands,

then chiseling bone into effigies of haloed saints, their hands clasped
in prayer for me, and I am ever so weary of me.

My father was a good man and he was not a good man.
I think we can say that about everyone.

I did learn Blackjack and my luck was as fickle as the stem
of an autumn leaf, and I always risked losing instead of giving up.

My father played me dissonant music on the piano.
My sister is a moth seeking a flame that is not too hot,

and I pray below the minor notes of my light that the ending of the story
will resolve, that the protagonist who is me will gently disappear in the dark.

by Kika Dorsey


Editor’s Note: The mind often makes mazes of memory (especially if the memory is traumatic) and this poem’s imagery feels exactly like that kind of recollection where one is never quite certain what happened, except that it was painful and true.


One response to “The Dissonant Music of Memory by Kika Dorsey”

  1. Ralph Culver Avatar

    Terrific poem.

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