The name of the author is the first to go

followed obediently by the title, the plot,

the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel

which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,


as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor

decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,

to a little fishing village where there are no phones.


Long ago you kissed the nine Muses goodbye

and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,

and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,


something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.


Whatever it is you are struggling to remember

it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,

not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.


It has floated away down a dark mythological river

whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those

who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.


No wonder you rise in the middle of the night

to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.


—Billy Collins

  • Michelle Owner of the Squishy PRO 10y

    fab! I really like this entire set.
  • Rita 10y

    Oh my. The photo drew me in (gorgeous) and the poem stole my heart. Thank you.
  • sakizkiz 9y

    love the image. too buzzed not to read the text
  • Naomi 9y

    Love the poem and LOVE the image. I had to go through the comments to realise how they go together though! Genius!
  • Shilashon 9y

    this is so great!!!
  • mario 9y

    thank you for reminding me.....wonderful poem and photo
  • the sentimentalist 9y

    this looks like a familiar bookcover
    i think, time travellers wife?
    great picture though.
  • pinoyphotog 8y

    This is an invitation to anyone who has ever felt the angst of lost love, the joy of rebirth and the myriad emotions evoked by photographs.

    Share your favorite verses, as interpreted by your images, with us at Poems&Photographs
  • Kye Printup PRO 8y

    This is a wonderful picture!
  • Dexter Pontañeles 8y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Creative Captions, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.
  • Smitha NK 8y

    this will be one of the pictures i will remember!
  • Dave 8y

    This image has been added to the Flickr Museum for making explore's top 25. Kudos! You can check it out HERE...

  • Bell 7y

  • meg-a-roo 7y

    love this.
  • Dana 6y

    Love Billy Collins, and this shot.
  • Anemone Jones 5y

    How did you collect so many wonderful poems?! I am always on the search for a really good one, but it seems so rare that I find it on my own.
  • Karen Dodge 5y

    Ditto to what Rongzoni says.
  • mariana romo 4y

  • Emma Vidmar 4y

    Oh billy collins, i love him. and this poem. and this picture!
  • Courtney Poullas 3y

    I just joined and thought about how a lot of these photos speak. Perfect example.
133 faves
Taken on February 26, 2005
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