ON A WALKTHROUGH OF MY WIFE’S CHILDHOOD HOME
while she helps paint the walls,
the novice historian in me stirs,
and I picture her there, in the den
of youth. She runs a hand along a fresh coat
just dried, and walks
with the childlike tread of discovery,
the raised dots and grooves
leading around the room
as though a kind of Braille had been laid into the texture.
I try to find some trace of it in a pass of my fingertips,
as if I might find a faint outline—
a hieroglyphic remembrance,
a cipher entombed there,
if such a cipher could exist
for the complete knowledge of a person.
It must be involuntary, the encryption, a terminal
where the memory sits, doggedly typing,
coding the files of experience,
eyes dry and heavy in the screen’s glow.
If a scraper could chip, layer by layer, to the base
while still preserving the rest,
I might break off and pocket a fleck of each,
maybe to mix in a can of our own.
A pan of lustrous beige lies in the corner,
the roller still wet, the last section blank, anxious.
I touch the spongy cover,
and rub the paint between forefinger and thumb
as if to blend it with my skin
before it hardens.