When he loves, he begins to forget.
~ from “A Man In His Life” by Yehuda Amichai

All his life he tried to please her
and he sees her now in misted memory.
A lost love in the span of years.
He hears her tender voice;
it has been her choice to remain
as his brain languishes in lost thought.
From the moment he met her,
he swore he’d never forget her, but
his mind paid little heed to such promises.
He loves her with all his heart,
from the start of their first moments
together, until his disease let her
slip from his grasp. He no longer
expresses what she has known for years
and amidst her heartache and tears,
she fears he has bid her farewell
without a proper goodbye. No matter
how hard she’ll try, she will cry
until dawns early light; all through the night.
He has loved her for a long time,
but when he loves, he begins to forget.

(C) Copyright Walter J Wojtanik – 2016

Offered at dVerse Poets Pub – Tuesday Poetics: “A goodbye you gave but didn’t mean to!”


31 thoughts on “HE FORGETS

  1. I think we have all had a relationship like this at one point or another:
    “she fears he has bid her farewell
    without a proper goodbye.”

    So well put. So sadly true, sometimes.

  2. Glenn Buttkus

    I read disease as alcoholism–strong & sad tale that is rife with unflinching truth; excellent rocking of the prompt.

  3. The quote that you’ve chosen for the final line is stunning; I’ll have to remember to look up “A Man In His Life.” And the body of the poem is suitably sad, full of the regret that comes with second-guessing; counting up one’s failures; trying to account for how things went wrong. I also read it as a story about alchoholism

  4. Deeply sad. Because of my mother, Alzheimers comes to mind, but the disease isn’t that important. At this point, my mother knows she loves me. I dread the day she forgets. This poem makes me weep. Excellent take on the prompt. The goodbye that isn’t meant but happens all the same.

    1. You’re right, the disease doesn’t matter. It is a sad situation all the same. As far as your mother goes, you love her and you know she has loved you. That certainly doesn’t change even if the display of it does. Thanks for your comment!

  5. I also thought Alzheimers and wondered why it was not in the tags. Sets one to wondering. The disease does loom large for those involved, Good job and yes, sad.

    1. Thanks Nan! Sometimes I leave the tagging to a minimum, leaving it to the reader’s imagination. More times than not, I find them inserting their personal tragedy/affliction into the blank. And yes, you are correct.

    1. Yes it can be. But we choose to remove the selfish feelings and see the beauty in our relationships. Sometimes we forget to say goodbye. Sometimes we never get the chance. We’ve gotten into the habit of saying “I love you and I will miss you!” instead of goodbye. It says, you have a tremendous impact on my life and I love you for it”

  6. My mother lost her mind because of brain cancer. She thought towards the end that I was her priest. Then stepdad fell down the stairwell drunk and a severe hematoma caused him to have permanent brain damage. He thought the nursing home was a Chinese POW camp. I try to remember the better times. They were there all along

  7. until his disease let her
    slip from his grasp. He no longer
    expresses what she has known for years

    It is sad sometimes when one has to be cruel to be good. Sacrificing one’s feelings just so the other is not made to suffer is a noble thing to do! Great lines Walt!


    1. Thank you, Hank! Sacrifice is built more from acceptance than anything else. Sacrifice is self-serving and reeks of giving something up. Acceptance is doing what needs to be done because it is the right thing to do! Some don’t know the difference.

  8. Wow. You have taken the unintentional goodbye prompt where I would have never thought to take it, but after it needed to be taken. One of your best, I think. In fact, one of the best poems I have read on a while.

    1. That is so kind of you to say, Bryan. Deliberate goodbyes are one thing. The goodbyes that can not be uttered for whatever reasons are the most painful. I thought it needed a voice. Thank you.

      1. It absolutely needed a voice. My grandmother spent the last 15-20 years of her life not knowing those around her…whether Alzheimer’s or incompetent doctor who over prescribed meds…the jury is still out. I do know, though, that it was extremely difficult for my mom and her siblings. As my mom said, visiting her mother was like going to the same funeral over and over again, but no sense of closure.

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