If I Trust the Lure of Memory
by  Timothy Cheeseman

If I try to recall
The distance between places

          it is the flawless certainty
          of each sunset that wears on me—

There is a space between
When I will cease and now

          whether tangerine plumes slice
          the dark horizon like sorties

And I suppose that is my life.
All that has happened is an old movie

          of scattered starlings—
          or plum strands dally

That I might have seen one
Late October, after strolling

          above toothy mesas like an Amish
          girl’s collar ribbons in a dusky breeze—

Down Hamlet Street
In a delicate drizzle

          it is the same—
          time is a lock on the sky—

With my hand tucked comfortably
In her hip pocket

          it rains—the sun never
          cheats—or waits—

While the rain dallied on chestnut
Hair before drowning dark leaves

          even behind the pale clergy
          of slate clouds—my bones sense

That were so close to floating
In the gutter stream.

          the sun’s chronic demise—
          if it would one evening when night

And a sulking ice cream truck
Spilled out a severed tune

          has smoothed the sky to a shallow bowl
          —pause—linger pensively—lean into ozone

I was certain I would never forget.

          roll like a Fatima lollipop
          among quills of crimson cirrus—

          refuse to drown

IMAGE: “Avenue of Poplars at Sunset” by Vincent van Gogh (1884).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I was working on a few poems and thought of the “IF I” prompt and ultimately rewrote an old piece and combined it with another poem. The format should indicate the piece reads as two complimentary but separate poems…an effect I thought fit well with the “if” theme.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Timothy Cheeseman is currently a guidance counselor at Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio, where he previously taught literature and theatre. He has a B.S. from The Ohio State University and a M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University and studied under Allen Ginsberg at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. A former Sacramento Poetry Prize Winner and Ciardi prize finalist, he last placed work in the Evansville Review and Facets Poetry Magazine. Prior to teaching he worked as a professional social worker, college professor, naturalist, cook, and janitor. Raised in the predominately Mennonite town of Plain City, Ohio, he resides in Lima, Ohio, with wife Kellie Armey and two sons Tristam and Charley.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a pic of me last summer looking back at my kid while we were traveling across the country…seems appropriate for the piece.