Poetry / December 2015 (Issue 30)

Cruelty Disciplines Our Idea of Memory

by B.B.P. Hosmillo

—for Kartika Pratiwi
I remember a poem I wrote for history, particularly that which did not speak
of me but self. When I confessed to Ibu Kartika that I've become aware
of my identity, become ashamed, become exceptionally private, she said self

going through changes
and then died. Immediately I went outside and howled
the vandalisms on my skin. Pseudonyms of war, battles fought hard, battles

fought alone, here I transfer you to the rooftop of agony that keeps describing
what it sees. Birds with one wing inflamed and bigger than the other, lime
to violet clouds, helicopters that don't land, and even if you say come here

the sound of nearness locates you so far away. Mt. Merapi watches you and
you can't move, you don't know if eruption means find shelter or stop finding

wherever ellipsis ends, which means dead bodies have yet to arrive, which
means when there's a dead thing at your feet you don't know it, if it's recent,
if it's been named many years ago and, through collective effort, forgotten.
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