Poet's Choice By Sarah Manguso

By Sarah Manguso
Sunday, June 28, 2009

I moved into a cabin in the foothills of the White Mountains in order to isolate myself, 11 years and several hundred miles from the memory of my 1995 diagnosis with the neurological disease chronic idiopathic demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy. Thus separated from my actual life, I thought I would be able to remember it clearly enough to write about it. During this vacation someone else cooked and delivered my meals. I ate, slept, walked, swam. The rest of the time I functioned as a memory machine, remembering and writing.

But then, in the middle of my vacation, I fell in love, and life recommenced. I had to move forward and look backward at once. The past and present interacted. My writing grew complicated.

This prose poem, a love poem, is about the summer that I lived and wrote in the present and the past.

(Editor's note: To see this poem laid out correctly on paper or on your screen, click the Print button in the Toolbox. To hear Sarah Manguso reading this poem, listen to the Book World podcast.)


One says Hello to the other and the moment falls from the other moments like a pebble from dark space, and again, Hello, calling to the other as if falling onto the other from dark space, and after some hours the word itself is like the small sounds we make when we touch each other with our mouths, and Hello, Hello, and now, if one wanted to greet the other, to say I greet thee, to separate the sound of the call from the other sounds, which are not calls to the other but to the space from which the pebble falls and into which time moves in all possible directions and we do not, one could not.

This poem was originally published in the journal "Slope" (2008). Sarah Manguso's memoir, "The Two Kinds of Decay" (Picador), is now available in paperback.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company