How sad it was that his memory had forgotten him.
Names, errands, phone numbers, items his wife
told him to remember –
all would stick to him for just a moment before being carried away
on the gentlest breeze.
But then one day he read of the memory palace of Matteo Ricci, a priest renown
for his capacious recall. Matteo kept in his mind
an ornate palace, with flourishing rooms delicately appointed.
One room held a swirling tapestry and a bright red vase;
another had crocodiles
and a golden stringed instrument; in a third was found
singing nightingales under a full moon.
Matteo invited everything
he heard or saw
to take up occupancy in his magnificent palace
where he could call on it later in an instant.
He was no priest, and no frequenter of palaces.
But he knew Skanchy’s Market from his childhood, and so he tried
stocking on its busy shelves most everything he was supposed to keep.
Stu Pease was shelved between the beans and the corn;
next Thursday’s supper with Roundys became a meat special;
and the name of her dog,
the pretty young girl with the cherry-red hair,
was found in the middle of the candies.
Then one day in the middle of running errands, he was strolling in his mind
from the fresh produce aisle over to hardware,
when from out of nowhere came
the smell of those old, oiled, wooden floors.
In an instant came the face of old man Skanchy, and how on one sunny day he gave out jawbreakers to the three little boys, and how he wanted the red one but got the green one, and how he and his friends sat on the steps and the sun felt so warm and the street was so quiet and green was okay and they talked about baseball and big brothers and before long it was time to ride the bikes over to the vacant lot for the whole day
and that was all there was to remember.
– Charlie Huenemann