Involuntary Memory Sequence

Leigh Phillips

for February 28, 2004 & Marcel Proust

Mother's death :: reconstruction
if swimming to the surface of self :: a la recherche du temps perdu
if an accumulation of time :: accumulation of memory

Figure 1:

What if the accumulation of time destroys the memory of a reasonably young woman and when you have thirty years and the next twenty are slow erasure and then, until then: completed into gone.

In MS, myelin is lost in multiple areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis
I was only a child, an only child already dreaming of seaweed.

My memory. Learning how to walk with it. The difference being, I can walk. I walked. Am walking, casting shadows, casting spells, tossing shadows, tossing vowels, cast in the image of your / my / Polish faces setting as both sides of a sunset in one world.

Figure 2: there is no figure.

Binding ankles down in every dream, my recurring: six-year-old / seven-year-old / ten-year-old / twelve always old, always dreaming...

seaweed around the ankles holding me deep till I am screaming
“baby what’s wrong” I don’t have a word but I know, I know.

the act of writing memory :: simultaneity of past and present.
Makes it permanent, but is also subject to revision.
In order to write, you must forget something. I am that something.

skin :: nerve

loss of balance and muscle coordination making walking difficult
circumlocution. circumference. 360. How many revolutions does it take to spin a little earth?

nerve :: memory

all around I dreamed is rise
I cannot rise
I am trying to remember what we were before but there isn’t any

aperture. vacuum. time.
12 o’clock 3
6 o’clock 9

You were a number divided by itself
and I became your 1


Marburg’s Variant of Multiple Sclerosis is a very aggressive form of MS where the disease advances very quickly and relentlessly. It is associated with severe axonal loss and leads to rapid disability and death.

I know now. I didn’t then. My dreams knew. Music didn’t know my dreams. Everyone’s a stranger.

Figure 3 is she, brutal in her silences
I get it:
a permanent object in my throat
leaving me
inch by ink
struck, each letter that becomes you
departs from me and
amplifies the obvious:
she who is not there and never here


is the script’s scene

made of over there, right here in all places at once—the simultaneity of the dead like a dream

“bright bloom of beauty” yes
hawAthorn n.
any of various small trees of the genus Crataegus, rose family, with stiff thorns and bright-colored fruit, often cultivated as hedges

“it is face to face with something which does not yet exist”
the scent of gardenias awakened

The particulars: everything breathes.

Leigh Phillips is an Assistant Professor of English at Hostos Community College with the City University of New York. Her stories, memoirs, poems and criticism most recently appeared in Rhino, So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, edited by Stacey Lynn Brown and Oliver de la Paz. She is currently writing an epistolary novel in verse, generously funded by a grant from the City University of New York Research Foundation.