The danger of memory is going
to it for respite. Respite risks
entrapment. Don’t debauch
yourself by living
in some former version of yourself
that was more or less naked. Maybe
it felt better then, but you were
not better. You were smaller, as the rain
gauge must fill to the brim
with its full portion of suffering.

What can memory be in these terrible times?
Only instruction. Not a dwelling.

Or if you must dwell:
The sweet smell of weeds then.
The sweet smell of weeds now.
An endurance. A standoff. A rest.

Copyright © 2022 by Diane Seuss. This poem originally appeared in the New York Review of Books, June 23, 2022. Used with permission of the author.