Afflicted When I hit the road, not for roadwork this time, morning light thin like my shakily packed bag, it was the end of winter, time to go. A scrapper since boyhood, neurals now explosive, I left my treasured boxing scrapbooks behind with the sad-eyed girl I married. After my seventh bout, concussed, untreated, I knew I must box no more. Subscribing to Ring Magazine at first, scissoring action shots to paste in pages beyond my meager cuttings, I continued flirting from afar with what I realized was an uncaring, brutal sport. I fretted for the ersatz feeling of glory entering the ring ducking between ropes, referees’ ignored instructions, nervous tap of gloves before combat. I also left training behind: contest posters pasted on the gym’s walls, liniment and leather’s waft, soft slap of skipped rope, the speedball’s thrummed tattoo; instead, learned to read to overcome depression, a different kind of obsession taking root. Trapped in a neutral corner now, alone with nothing left of that faded time except my developed yet weakening brain, memory’s slippage like an unwanted heirloom after these quiet years afloat in the world of literature, art, this unaccountable loss, those grueling days of damage done, that sad-eyed girl, stagger me, a rip to the solar plexus. I feign nonchalance, keep on the move, defence stoic yet porous, want this tempo of rapid decline to slow, dreaming back, wondering what became of my youth during this still life, those scrapbooks, crave to trace their pages’ yearning once again.