Memory Palace by Jeffrey Neilson

Plant a coastline of redwood on the outskirts of this domain. Without interruption, let life run its course. Species killed off. Underneath the street where you lived, let minnows collect on the surface. Let the family album survive the inferno. Let numbers recede into the background. The cloud of today’s memory stores them all. Who knows the outcome of the inquiry. Put that uncertainty into song. Let children draw scrambled lines, doodle across the face of the earth, shattering the only concrete world they may know. Let all the trails converge, not where the sea slowly engulfs this dream of the coast. Let the shoreline be the last line, where neighbor’s daughter finds peace in the palace. A dream uses this method of mass construction: standing on Saddam’s sunlit terrace, his daughter weeping in her room. You are at the base of, and look up through, that towering sculpture of a DNA strand extending from the ground to sky to infinity, thinking: Babel. Dizzily lost in the tearful choke of this sense of turning upward and outward from within before you can embrace any of the close ones one last time. The angles of sunlight, range of breezes, various intimacies quickly cooling, home enduring beyond recognition, preserved within the method of loci by which you file away the years. This topophilia suits you. Not ending blends with yet another strange return until you are here again among the shades, touching soft wet bark, smelling oceandrift and thousands of oaks and dusty remains of lives repeating in this spot.

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