Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Issue 4 | Winter 2012

Neil Aitken


In the past, we wrote things down on cards, made a braille of absence,
holes where something should be known or recalled.  We constructed stories

out of old addresses, linked numbers together in a chain, assembled
a patchwork hovel from whatever was leftover: discarded newspapers,

broken frames, loose bits of hair and clay.  Wooden planks and nails.
Till it rose, like a large tenement filled with transients and strangers

in tattered clothes with tattered names, the hallways lined with an array
of refugee suitcases from the last war, scattered haphazardly,

like shoes along an old rail line that runs into the sea.  What is memory?
And who is it that slips in at these odd hours, working late

into the night to compile a map through this hoarder's den of detail,
this warren of notes woven into a tapestry of cricket song and fire light,

and every moment we've buried in the name of loss and compassion.
Who is it that stirs upstairs in my mind, moves through the darkened space

searching the drawers for a key to wind a clock in a house
that no longer exists.  Here, my father is alive again, once more