Inquiry with Quiet Punctuation
Lena Bertone

Do you practice to forget or does it just happen. Do street names disappear from signs, do signs blink and fade on the horizon. Shaped clouds fall off the sky. Barbers that remind you of uncles not remind you anymore. Does it take practice to forget a face. A sharp jaw or the name attached to that sharp jaw, imprinted in it and in your head when you see it move, when you see it shift into a smile at you. Do you remember how to smile, or when to smile, when your neighbor asks you about the old lawnmower in the shed that may or may not exist. How should you know, you wonder, when she asks you where you’ve been, all this time, in and out, away and back. Does it take practice to say the right thing or is it better not to try. Is it better to forget that she’s there, with dirt on the knees of her jeans. Expecting an answer to her unanswerable question. You clear your mind—you have practice—and go see if it’s there—this phantom lawnmower, which may have existed, which could have existed, for all you know—in the shed, preserved, filled and ready to run.

Lena Bertone lives in Central New York. Her stories have appeared in Matchbook, Monkeybicycle, and Wigleaf.

Photograph by Sheri Wright