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from Oxford University Press

how the light

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by Peter Schneider

Somewhere recently
I lost my short term memory.
It was there and then it moved
like the flash of a red fox
along a line fence.

My short term memory
has no address but here
no time but now.
It is a straight-man, waiting to speak
to fill in empty space
with name, date, trivia, punch line.
And then it fails to show.

It is lost, hiding somewhere out back,
a dried ragweed stalk on the Kansas prairie
holding the shadow of its life
against a January wind.

How am I to go on?
I wake up a hundred times a day.
Who am I waiting for,
what am I looking for
why do I have this empty cup
on the porch or in the yard?

I greet my neighbor, who smiles.
I turn a slow, lazy Susan
in my mind, looking for
some clue, anything to break the spell
of being lost in plain sight.

12 Responses to LOST IN PLAIN SIGHT

  • Diane Bader says:

    This is so touching. It hits a nerve. Thank you, Peter.

  • Helen Sears says:

    What a poet’s soul is shown here! He has captured this scary on-going occurrence with gentle, but brave clarity that provides understanding and comfort for all facing similar events. Thank you!

  • Janet Johnston says:

    Dear Pat, I respect Peter for his artistry and honesty. I think we all fear losing our ability to create due to memory loss. Peter’s poem is inspirational evidence that we can be creative about our experience even under those circumstances. Thank you for sharing and my best to Peter.

  • Karen buchinsky says:

    “I wake up a hundred times a day.” This line especially gets me. Gorgeous writing, gorgeous.

  • Abby Roberts says:

    It’s an elegant portrait, Peter. Thank you so much for sharing your rich words to help us understand how it feels.

  • Prema J Camp says:


    This is so powerful. So helpful to see to feel the forgetting mind. You may call your mind “a dried ragweed stalk on the Kansas prairie,” but you are not that stalk. You are a vibrant man sending frequencies through your clarinet that moved my heart and moves the hearts of all who listen. Keep on inspiring me (and others) as you do! I subscribe to Ted Kooser and will save your poem to a file: KOOSER. So many of his choices reach deep into me. I have Pat’s Kooser selected poem.

    Congratulations and love, Prema

  • Carol Thomas (AWA writer) says:

    Oh, what a wonderfully articulate expression of a frightening condition of aging. We elders all know the feeling to some degree and fear for the future. Thank you for your honesty and insight.

  • Toni Jensen says:

    I love you his poem!

  • Oh, this spoke to me. Fun, lyrical, and deeply touching. Love it!
    “It was there and then it moved like the flash of a red fox along a line fence.” Beautiful.
    “lazy Susan in my mind”.
    What a lovely, visual poem about remembering and not. Thank you Peter.

  • Channon says:

    Wow, what an amazing poem. Just reading it makes you feel the loss in being lost and remember that blank feeling when you walk into a room and wonder why on earth you went there. That blink awake of the mind that has skipped a step in time.

  • A lovely poem which expresses what I am experiencing more and more..

  • Anita says:

    Pat – as always you captured this state of mind so simply, so artistically, so visually. Thank you. Anita

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