American Poetry XLV - W.S. Merwin - Exercise

Photo by James Neeley

W.S. Merwin (1927)

First, forget what time it is
for an hour
do it regularly every day

then forget what day of the week it is
and do this regularly for a week
then forget what country you are in
and practice doing it in company
for a week
and then do them together
for a week
with as few breaks as possible

follow these by forgetting to add

or to subtract
it makes no difference
you can change them
around after a week
both will help you later
to forget how to count

forget how to count
starting with your own age
starting with how to count backwards
starting with even numbers
with Roman numerals
starting with fractions of Roman numerals
with the old calendar
going on to the old alphabet
going on to the alphabet
forgetting it all until everything
is continuous again

go on to forgetting elements
starting with water
proceeding to earth
rising in fire

forget fire