About the Feature

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash


I must remember to open
the cabinet of forgotten things.
That’s where the bottles are.
Bottles of solutions that enhance
memory. Or do they stoke
the imagination? I think I recall
the lock’s combination. Isn’t it
the date of a French king’s death?
Or the net worth of a magnate? Or
the coordinates of a mass evacuation?
I wish I could remember. I see
a thoroughfare and burgeoning flora.
I glimpse a sympathetic face—my cousin?
What was I discussing? Monarchy?
Proximity? Prolixity? Departure?
Oh yes, the cabinet. That’s where
I keep my diploma. I learned so much
only to forget it all. What was the name
of that philosopher I wrote about
so avidly? What did he believe?
Something about corporeality?
He suffered from insomnia and anxiety,
yet he forged on, gripping his pen,
scanning the scene wildly. What did I
learn from him? Precision? Curiosity?
Devotion? Brutality? I can’t quote him,
but he’s always with me. Anyway,
the cabinet is made of stained mahogany
with two brass knobs. It’s adorned
with a gold leaf forget-me-not,
if I remember correctly. It has been
in my family for generations.
It has survived wars, floods, betrayal,
depression, immunization, inflation.
It preserved papers of identification.
There are photos inside of great-grandfathers
shaking hands with tyrants. And of
infants squinting in autumnal light.
There’s a ring encrusted with rubies
and a goblet with an indecipherable
engraving. There’s a recipe
my great-great-grandmother was saving
for her great-great-granddaughter,
who was never born. Or was she?
Is she my sister? My wife? The recipe,
it’s said, strengthens the mind.
It’s the leeks, I’m told, simmered for days
in August heat while the family recites
Norse sagas from memory. Or do we
play Indian ragas indefinitely? Is it
a matter of biology? Gerontology? We’re
all now in therapy, sifting our memories . . .


About the Author

Christopher Brean Murray’s book, Black Observatory, was chosen by Dana Levin as the winner of the 2022 Jake Adam York Prize. It was published by Milkweed Editions in 2023. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Pleiades, and other journals. He lives in Houston, Texas.