What is this melancholy scuttling up the stairs
toward the sepia tone of memory? You're at sea
in the Hebrides of your head, or falling gracelessly
from the cliff of mistakes you've made while trying
like Magellan to locate the exact longitude of regret.
On memory's crumbling shelf, you have only yourself
to endure, dimly conscious, fumbling. You know the whole time
that these stairs you climb to the ill-lit precipice
of your small ambitions, your artifice, your little life—
there will be greener graves than yours
to desecrate or to endure.
Pamela Sumners is a constitutional and civil rights lawyer who loves poems, her wife, her trans son, and three gassy dogs.