Mario Susko

The Aftermath

there are some time-warped moments
when you manage to forget the war
although the war never forgets you:

it goes with you like your shadow, now
shorter, now longer, left of you, right
of you, now before you, now behind you:

it turns into you when the night
erases the horizon and makes
your mind become a blind navigator:

your reflexes are your compass as you
try again to find the way into space
where gravity doesn't force things

and memory to be in balance, your outline
to tell you, when you're up, whether you
left your legs in your sleep, or not


A Matter of Perception

We are quick to say we want
to know the truth, yet seldom are we
ready to see it as something
other than what we perceive it to be.

washing an apple, you glance at me
annoyed with my words, as if they distracted
you from concluding a blotch on its skin
must hide a worm tunneling through the flesh.

I watch you grab a butcher knife and cut
the apple in half executioner style,
only to reveal two moons with four pips
falling out of their pearly cradle.

with an angry gesture you push everything
off the counter into the garbage can,
pressing the pedal that lifts the lid and
exposes the gullet of some predatory animal.

There was nothing wrong with that apple,
I say, Yes, there was, you quip, plucking
a grape from a bunch in the crystal bowl,
and march off toward the open door.

and then you turn, as if you forgot to say
something, I tell you there was, the look
in your eyes letting me know the way
you perceive me is the way you see me.


Memory Curve

I took pains to starve my memory,
practicing on as many things as I could,
some of them I lost intentionally:
my umbrella in a cab, my sunglasses
on a café table, my pen in a library:
forcing myself to forget when and where—

I tried not to remember phrases I'd used,
that got me where I am: life must go on,
things will turn for the better, life is
too short to dwell on the past, we have
to forget and move on, and so on and on:
words that once could've redeemed the future—

I stopped wearing a watch (They said he'd
been taken in at 10:30 p.m. and released
26 hours later, but no one has seen him
since), though my grandfather said one
thing that kept him sane in the konzlager
was remembering what happened and when,

yet a couple of hours before passing on,
he asked my grandmother: What time is it,
what day, and she answered: 8:30, dear, Sunday
evening, to which he mumbled, his eyes fixed
on the ceiling: Didn't hear the alarm clock,
still there's time to get to a Sunday mass.

that, perhaps, is the only way to circumvent
the memory curve, to open the front door
with the key to the place I no longer have,
jerk the lock toward me to hear the click,
step slowly into the empty space and have
the words come out on their own: Anybody home?