August 24, 2018 >

August 24, 2018 >

cheliss collage.png


by Cheliss Thayer

after Marie Howe

“Remembering—the things I don’t remember”
         the memory of the righteous is blessed, but the wicked will rot
                                                                                   Proverbs 10:7


The first was that she didn’t hate me.

The second was to sleep when the baby slept.

The third – marriage.

The fourth – privacy, disguised as discretion.

The fifth was that he had gone to a bed and breakfast with someone else. Though I was in denial. Started racing—Friday nights. And only worked when he needed cash.

Ok the first was that she hadn’t meant it when she said she hated me.

The second that we were lying in the rocker and we were both awake. Then he was asleep. Then I was awake and he was awake and maybe I’d slept too.

The third was that my mother told me that I hadn’t married anyone like my father.

The fourth was that these things were very different when I was younger and at home. By which I mean that the standard had changed.

The fifth was that he must have stopped loving her. My mother.

The sixth – I had to scissor every corner as I walked, letting the corner be the third leg between my two so it’s energy never touched any part of my person.

The seventh – I had to continuously flare my nostrils so that I always ended up looking angry or overcome by something indescribable and people maybe thought I was more hateful than good, in general.

No. That was the first.

The second was that it was 2:03 when he fell asleep in my arms wrapped in a receiving blanket, and then 2:47 when we were both awake.

The third was that she’d told me to never marry someone like my father and I refused to talk to her for three days after.

Ok. The first was that I couldn’t really remember any of it the way they did.

The second was that she told me she’d been wrong to say that.

The third was that I needed all the knives to face a certain direction in the drawer, and I was always measuring my breath to be sure I inhaled the exact same amount as I exhaled.

The fourth was that I always seemed out of breath and nostril flaring angry.

The fifth was that I wasn’t sure what to do with my mother’s divulgence when we had always kept our own business our own.

The sixth was that I wasn’t sure what to say to other mothers about sleeping.

The seventh was that he’d taken up with someone else before he’d finished with my mother—said he’d missed his calling in life and decided it was never too late to start up something new.

And I’m thinking of privacy of the mind
and discretion of the memory.

No, the discretion of the mouth
and control of the ears –

The truth is that I don’t remember her telling me
so I’m forgiving her now when she asks.

And I’m wondering if the memory holds space
for forgiving what it can’t remember.


Cheliss Thayer is a fiction writer by craft, poetry writer by leaning into the unknown, and dedicated type-writerist. When not writing, she dances, looks after her baby bear and travels with her husband. She makes Corvallis, OR her home.