Stones for Memory


Today’s prompt is to write a poem about memory.

I have always envied others their power of memory.  My own is so fickle, so capricious, unreliable.  My ability to concentrate and memorize poetry or lines for a play in the present moment are, I think, above average.  I’m nowhere close to having a photographic memory, but I feel like I understand the brains of people who do.  This has served me well in the short-term.  I can quickly learn a story, hold a lesson plan, memorize a poem, prepare for a play.  But my powers of remembering in the long-term are, I think, way below the average.  I can remember very few of the teachers in my growing up years.  Even college, even grad school, even my first years of teaching–all are receding, dragged backward out of my memory.  This has always been kind of painful for me.

What I tell myself is that I live in the present so completely, that the butterfly of my personality sits so completely in the now, that I do not take my mind back enough to pull out the pieces of past and examine them, and so they flow out and away.  Perhaps this is not exactly a defect in my personality, but it remains a deep and abiding pain.  I lose the past too utterly, and I do often feel it as a personal deficiency: if only I would get my flightly brain to concentrate more often on what has gone before, perhaps I could keep it, hold on to it.  Still, I cannot make myself hold memory.  My brain is wired for this moment.

I place in the hands of Time these stones:
the story of this day,
the people I have been near to,
the songs the Fates have whispered in my ears,
the colors that haunt me.

See how they turn to mist,
how they glow for a moment–
red, then golden, then blue–
then dissipate like ash blown by a wind
before I can register
that they have lost their substance.

Where does memory go
when it flows out with the tide,
when it slips down the drain,
when it is blown out with the morning fog?

I am still the child in the forest,
walking blind through the swirling mists,
under the shadows of the great trees.
With each forward step on the trail,
a little bird flutters from the pathway behind,
a bread crumb in its beak.

Gratitude List:
1. Memory
2. Longing
3. This moment
4. The shades of dawn
5. Small moments in which to breathe.

May we walk in Beauty!


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