When is the best time to remember?
I remember the walks, where dad would remember
his old track and field and cross-country days,
Hannah and dad walking parallel, me in the back.
There’s a syllable of summer in the air, speaking
clear through the forgetful mess—the sun would
rise like spears glinting in the sky, the tentative
violence, the heat of the awakened sun.
Those summers at the beach, as you would get
out of the water from swimming,
every tuft and tussle and turn of the wind
would snap at the notched cramps in your side
from the cold. These walks, teeming with absent concentration,
we’d try to become the person our shadows are, so formulaic,
in the angst of memory, walking along the bike trail
where the leaves would walk behind us in the wind,
like footsteps. However far we get, when the time
comes, is it better to avoid the mud puddle
or leap over it? My notebook would get heavier with
new ideas, stories to memorise. There was
old Mr. Yanskas, inviting us into his house on Halloween,
and I’d wondered if he’d been in a war, or where
his own children were—but his wife gave us candy
simply for spending our time there. I think
I was a pirate again that year, or maybe I was a drummer:
I can’t remember—funny, isn’t it?
There were always the walks when we
didn’t want to be cooped up inside;
I never even cared if it was about to rain.
Back to the prior summer—or every summer, perhaps—
the gleaming speech of the crescent waves would
curdle and crinkle upon the shore, Hannah
never being allowed to swim out deep; but she
might’ve been better than me at swimming.
The sand would be clothing for our feet
in the parking lot. I wonder now, looking over the park rail,
and out over the lake: a net as wide as the sea
wouldn’t be able to capture all the life in it—
something, some remnant of a memory would escape,
no doubt. Only a couple days ago we were watching softball
games down at the civic center—the grass underfoot
conforming to our steps, the legs of the sun walking with us.
All the memories under the sun are not enough,
they are not my true joy. My legs are taut to the front yard,
the back yard; I must be watching myself from everywhere,
role-playing. But thinking to myself, the little blue flowers
in the back yard all thrown up in dad’s
dirt pile from snow-plowing, they’re still alive and
blue. I feel as if I’ll forget them one day, forget everything
that I ever collected to recollect.
Speaking was never an obsession;
Reminding yourself with souvenirs is not
as unshakeable as you think. As July may flourish
every shade of green, August will always burn red
in my heart. We never knew what all this oblivious love
between us meant, but I mean to hold it as a keepsake.
You can’t bury the weather of yesterday,
you can’t grow tomorrow’s filtering sunlight;
but I’ll find paradise at my desk rather than
at the end of smoke. Paradise, you’re a paradox
to me, and you won’t stay still, you’re always in
someone else’s hopes and dreams.
However misleading my reminiscing will be
down the road, I know this world doesn’t deserve us—
I will be me as best as I ought to—
however long it takes me to remember.