Perhaps No One Is Immune to Memory Distortion

by Arturo Ruiz

I watch, at night, pageants
in the hospital in Waikiki, and see
(in a dream) on the lawn of Iolani Palace
the shadow of Care Bears and leaves.
I buy us a coronation pavilion—
                                                     Then I wake up.

Mom is pregnant, asks for little outfits
and scissors, again, to tear
                                          a tumor out.
I don't know when she got it.
She never says what her migraine is.

She smokes all the time—Benson & Hedges,
drugs, weed. She smells like menthols.
Because it's brain cancer they marry, he tells me.
He works. Loses his scholarship, for her.

The Marine Corps (his dream).
                           Of a man, for a man.
(Pageants I watch at night.)
Poses (like Care Bears) are for girls, he tells me.
But I'm born in the closet.

He smokes Benson & Hedges, like she
does. And on the weekends he has an affair
with the orderly at his job, Kahi Mohala
Behavioral Health Center. And she,
                                                       the orderly, is 16.

Grandma dies in the bath. Mom leaves
him. We only ever see her fat sister.
She's acting up on
girls' night out
. (Three months later)
 She's locked in, down, under, then out,
                                                             then never
                                                to remember.