Thomas Nguyen ~
Consider what remains: chipped yellow
paint, roman candles, wilted gardenias,
so many photographs. Accept that
time makes things distant, that his
absence doesn’t bleed into your memories
as much as it used to. Try harder and
harder to remember the last time
you saw him, cords wrapped around
his legs like snakes, all white
and black, hidden underneath
neatly-pressed khakis. And my melanomas,
he once showed you, with a smile.
My dermatologist taught me how
to care for them. Watch him run his fingers
across the small, dark-brown, cancerous
growths on his hands
one more time. See the green moss
scale the windows of his home, tower
over him, and realize that it never
stops growing for anybody. Accept that
life always adds, how it always
adds, day by day.
About the poet:
Thomas Nguyen is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied neuroscience and creative writing. This fall he will move to Manhattan to begin the master's program in narrative medicine at Columbia University. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Healing Muse, Rust + Moth and Intima.
About the poem:
"Erasure was written about one of my dear professors who passed away in October of 2016. I started writing poetry at the beginning of my college career, and he was the professor of the very first poetry class I took. I thank him for all of his encouragement and wisdom when I knew next to nothing about poetry, just that I really did believe in the beauty and grace of words. He planted the seed that started it all for me. The poem draws from memories of my visits with him after his progressing cancer forced him into retirement. I wanted to contrast how life adds so much every day, but is also very heartless in how it takes away. The result is that memories we hold dear to us are often the same ones we find ourselves struggling to remember the most."
Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer