Posts Tagged ‘Operating Theater’

THERMOS 5: Carrie Olivia Adams

Four years ago, I wrote a review of Carrie Olivia Adams’ first full-length collection of poetry, Intervening Absence (Ahsahta, 2009) for Denver Quarterly. “Through prodding lines that make moments of ‘nothing’ pulse,” I concluded, “Adams proves that an ‘intervening absence’ is not an oxymoronic convolution but a unique phenomenon of presence.” Convolution?!? Oh, Savich. I should’ve said I read the book on a porch swing and immediately invited her to send poems for the 5th print issue of THERMOS. Since then, Carrie has hosted me at a poetry reading in her home (biscuits) and become my editor at Black Ocean; it’s rare to have an editor whose poetry you admire so much. She’s also published a terrific new collection, Forty-One Jane Does, with Ahsahta. “Dear Astronomer, / What do you do during the daylight?” one poems begins. “She had tried to leave her body behind. / But it would not stay,” says another, lines I think of on many walks. You can read more about her new book and order it directly from Ahsahta’s site. — ZS

from Operating Theater


When? When will I remember? Not how. But when.

At first, I will remember every day. Maybe several times a day. Tomorrow, I will say it happened yesterday. I will remember yesterday. And then the day after tomorrow and after and after. For many days, I will remember. And then there will come a time when I won’t recall immediately how long it has been. I will count in my mind and on my fingers and only then will I know. Eventually, I will forget. I will forget for a very long time. It will lie dormant. And then one day the bus will be late, I’ll catch someone’s eye, I’ll hear someone catch their breath. And I won’t know whether it really happened—that moment—or whether I had been waiting for an excuse to make it happen. But then it won’t matter. I will remember this.

I want to know how long I have to wait until I remember again.


I spend a lot of time thinking about the ocean. It began with gathering.

I gather you might want to shut the door. I gather this day is a marker.

I gather days. I gather light, lost in frames and thresholds. I gather the ocean.

I gather the ocean opens and closes like lips or fingers speaking.

It’s true, most stories like this begin in the forest. But ours might be a boat overturned. Our luggage bobbing and sinking.

I gather splintered wood. I gather splashing arms and feet. I gather I am not sure whether to struggle.

Or how hard to struggle. To slow and gather strength…the strength to stop swimming

[ Other]
I’ve made a machine. It makes memories.
No. No that’s not quite right.
It makes remembering possible. No.
It remembers for me? Perhaps.
Yet, sometimes I remember things the machine doesn’t make.

{A list of some things that remember what’s there, even when we can’t see it:

A globe
An astrolabe
A lighthouse
A recipe
A dress}

The precise memory span of a Betta fish is exactly 16.4 seconds.
This is a lie.
Elephants never forget.