On Day 19, I asked you to write a poem about a memory of yourself that you personally could not remember. For instance, something from early on in your youth, from blacking out because of drinking or medication, or from just having a horrible memory, I guess. I used some anecdotes from my youth and something I said in my sleep, for instance.
The poems you came up with were awesome. There’s always so much honesty and passion behind these poems. And they ran the gamut–from terrifically funny to terrifyingly tragic.
Four lives before age six
I recall reaching
For the orange cup.
But don’t remember
How the bleach burned
Going down my throat.
I see the storm door
In my mind’s eye.
But don’t remember
Going through it
And I see the pavement
Pass inches below
But don’t know how
The car door opened.
And I don’t remember
Falling from the
But still feel the cool grass
Beneath my broken shoulder
Mike Barzacchini |mjbarzAT NOSPAMyahoo dot com
When I was a little girl,
One night I awoke
On the kitchen table
Beside the salt and pepper shakers.
My mother tells me
I used to dive bomb
Out of my crib,
That she could not build
High enough walls to cage me.
If anyone nears my eye
With a finger or brush,
I immediately recoil and tear.
My mother tells me I ran
Directly into her extended finger
Around the age of three.
I retell this forgotten story
As my mother stabbed me in the eye.
My father made hamburger
Of my fist as I placed my hand
In greased pan. Sometimes I wake
With heated palms. I would later dream
That my sister was cooking our mother
And our mother was still talking to us.
But the oddest of all memories
Is a white dress hovering
In the linen pantry mirror,
And my mother asking me
Why I was in the closet that night.
Bonnie MacAllister |bmacallisterAT NOSPAMearthlink dot net
The Last Time I Leaned out a Window
It was one of those New York days
when steam rises from the sidewalk.
Warm air, oppressive as a wool blanket,
drifts through the open window.
I hear barking in the courtyard
six floors below. I climb
on the sill, lean out the window,
stare at the snarling dogs.
Large hands pull me back,
turn me over a cotton-clad knee
and, for the first and last time,
Margaret Fieland |infoAT NOSPAMmargaretfieland dot com
You tell me
I recite recipes
in my sleep.
I was out of tomatoes.
crushed? or chopped?
get out of the kitched.
Shannon Rayne |shanpidAT NOSPAMshaw dot ca
What Mom remembers is that
on the day of my birth,
since I was the fourth child,
I came very suddenly and
she barely made it the fourteen miles
to the hospital.
She didn’t have time to
wash up the hand-me-downs so
she had to bring me home in
a tattered sweater.
She always felt bad about that.
Dad remembers that I was born
on the first day of squirrel season,
and he kept falling off a stump
from being so sleepy
from staying up all night.
When my children were born
I tried to tell them more interesting
stories about their births.
Connie |CoFun77AT NOSPAMyahoo dot com
My forty year old son
reminds me of the time
I threw the dishes
and broke most every one
because I was angry
at his father
he did/didn’t do
three years before
I divorced him
and the reason
after all this time
is because he still
thinks it’s funny
that my only comment
was “At least
they were dirty.”
Linda Brown |llbrownAT NOSPAMembarqmail dot com
There are bits and pieces of memory
Touching a little girl
That was me.
There are bits and pieces
That still today
Torture the woman
That is me.
The bits and pieces
He left behind
Are still mine
Even though he is dead.
patti williams |pwilliamswriterAT NOSPAMaol dot com
I am six years old in the picture,
sitting astride a tortoise,
twice my size.
I guess it was a petting zoo
and I am grinning with delight.
My mom says that after she snapped
with the old Polaroid camera,
the tortoise caught sight of my yellow
sneakers and thinking it was a tasty
treat, tried to take a bite.
I don’t remember any of this
but the creature’s head was at least
as big as mine,
her mouth much wider
and I guess I should be glad
I still have both feet.
Beth Browne |womenswritesAT NOSPAMinbox dot com
A Moment in Time
Three years old and riding on a
Subway with my mother. Cane seats worn
And shredding, women complaining of runs
In their nylons which catch on stray strips
They tell me I was a `pincher’ in my
Toddler years and Mom never knew
When it would happen or who the
Victim(s) would be or how they would take it
Mom and I sit in seats facing others, men
All wearing hats and reading newspapers
But then, a group of nuns in full habit sit down
“Who are those funny ladies?” I yell
I had never seen a nun before, and
Demanded an explanation. Impatient with
Mom’s apologies to the women in black and white,
I launch out of my seat, over to the nuns and pinch their knees.
Sara McNulty |smcnultyAT NOSPAMsi dot rr dot com
(For the Cousin Never Known)
The photo black and white
sepia-stained at the crimped corner,
me laughing, snug on Auntie’s hip
a bag of taters and her, not twenty,
bouffant hair, pursed lips and puppy-sad eyes,
evoke dreamy deja-vues of distant toddler-hood
in her mother’s house: the creaking staircase;
packing boxes of books – Honey Bunch
and Bobbsey Twins – closet cached
under summer-hot eaves; the cuckoo clock
that magically played the Batman theme;
the sun slanting into the dormered room
each morning; cider-tinged orchards
and shiny buckeyes to collect; chipmunks skittering
over lichen-lacquered stone walls;
the cool dank cellar of glittering glass,
jars of relish and ‘maters hiding half-full bottles
of gin; the scent of sadness creeping round corners
hushed and still; Auntie weeping, always weeping,
for a daughter she will never know,
holding me instead. Holding me.
Linda |drwasyAT NOSPAMgmail dot com
Past and Present
I call my older sister, figuring she’d know.
“Tell me a story about myself I’ve never heard.”
She’s helping her son with homework.
“When you were two and I was ten
I got mad at mom and ran away with you.”
“Why’d you take me?”
“Didn’t want to leave you with them. I liked you.”
She tells her son she’ll help him in a minute.
“So I got some graham crackers and a diaper
and propped you up in the back of the wagon.
Mom knew. I went all the way to the stop sign
and around the corner. Far enough
so mom couldn’t see.”
“Why’d you come back?”
“I realized I couldn’t take care of both of us.
Besides I’d made my point.” She laughs.
In the background I hear her son say,
“I’m getting out the graham crackers.”
Carol Brian |csp2000AT NOSPAMearthlink dot net
My mother and grandmother loved to tell stories
of my precocity, how I could read as early as three –
or so they claimed. They said they realized this
when I’d go with them to the cigarette machine
and pick out each brand – Winstons, Chesterfield Kings,
Camels, Pall Malls. Maybe it was just pattern recognition –
the Pall Mall package, for example, was almost solid red –
but they claimed it was proof of early genius..
No doubt, I’d even help them get their favorites –
they slipped coins in the slot and I pulled
the glass-knobbed lever that released the package
with a “ker-chunk” to the bottom tray. Maybe I made
faces in the mirror – all cigarette machines had mirrors,
I’m not sure why. They were everywhere – in the diner,
the bus station, the office, the bowling alley. It was cool
and sexy to smoke – the crewcut man with the skinny tie,
the platinum blonde in shirtwaist and pearls, sharing
a cigarette break. Even doctors smoked on TV.
My grandmother died of lung cancer
about eight years ago, a smoker almost to the end.
My mother died not long after. If only I had the power
to see the future then, instead of the power of early reading,
I’d stop their hands before the coins went down
and the Pall Malls or Winstons came out.
Instead, I went on reading like some prodigy.
I never quite lived up to that.
Bruce Niedt |jackbugsAT NOSPAMcomcast dot net
A Sudden Stillness
She told the story until
I felt sure I remembered it
from some space between lifetimes,
my kicks inside her wet womb
before storytime with her first graders.
‘Once upon a time’ and I lay still,
listening to the tales unfold,
was still again as a baby with croup,
pain carried on the wings of ‘once upon’
into the late rainy night.
She was Mnemsyne, divine lover of Zeus;
I was her child-muse, being gifted these sacred
stories, yet to be scribed, my feet motionless,
my heartbeat a mere breath in the wind.
Pris Campbell |camprisAT NOSPAMbellsouth dot net
There are moments
But not often minutes
When I see. It is possible to
Be awake, but
Only with great effort
The joy of life
With the business of being alive.
My cherry tree is about to bloom
It is fully awake
Its only sound is a sigh
Of disappointment as I walk by.
Gratia Karmes |glk222AT NOSPAMtds dot net
Jenny and the Pine Tree
“We always get a spruce pine
for Christmas,” Mom repeats,
then tells the story of when I,
pre-school-aged and already in trouble
at daycare for biting other bratty kids,
stood in front of the Christmas tree
for a picture with my even-tempered little brother.
I took a step back, and one of those spiny branches
reached out and pinched my neck.
More startled than hurt, I turned around
and bit that horrible little branch,
then yelped and let go when it had the nerve
to poke the roof of my mouth.
Angry, I bit that stupid tree again.
JL Smither |jlsmitherAT NOSPAMgmail dot com