Tag Archives: memory

How I got Up there

Once by the sunflowers I was afraid to jump.

I had a home in a dusty box
Hammered out in cheap words and wood
On another edge of the world
In dresses, mothballs, needles and blown pipe ash
The brown bag refuge in the pines

Once I flew over the library in the pink cold sunset.

Somewhere there’s sandy clapboards and the shells in the rock
Smoke and mattresses
Delirium and stolen breath
Rolling cartwheels down cobbleways
There’s a drag on your coat tails
And a bishop behind the gate

Once I tread on thin shingles and plastic ghosts.

I had a canvas jacket
I had a brown patch coat
I had a long black number
I was all sandglass and brick

Once I simply opened a door and climbed up.

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And Now

(For the wedding of Erin & Andrew Harrell)

As I look out
upon this iron city
and watch it steam

and breathe
and people come and go
in great glass towers
and in long trolleys
and trains
and winter coats

I think about a child that was me
and another that
I knew
a girl with summer-colored hair
who held my hand and walked with me to school
when I wore blue overalls

and I recall a day when
we were high up in the branches of a eucalyptus
making small stories
the lives of her dolls
and the rain came so sudden and so hard
we ran
and yelled
and the thunder yelled back
and that was us.

And we learned how to be small together,
and we made lemonade in the summers,
and we spent our few dollars on movies,
sitting in the aisle on the steps
because there were no seats

We were so close we could not help but fight.
And with her voice she made me so angry
before I knew how words could fight for you
I kicked and hit and bit,
and never won.
Her voice was so strong, and I was so small,
and her voice has never changed.
I feel her strong voice when I think that I have found my own
and maybe it was she that taught me how,
the way she taught me how to tie my shoes.

We strode together down a hill where sour cherries fell from low branches,
to listen to loud music and dance and act the way that we thought it would be
to be older.

On a strange night, in a strange place
We sat against a moonlit wall and thought of home
and cried until it hurt.

And we got older
and we wasted time gloriously on idle things.
And childhood crept out the door and left us
awkward and stumbling, proteges of life
and that
we had always had
it left us too, and distantly, we struggled.

She found herself in dance, I told my stories in my way
And separately, and over years, we kept the things that we had learned
when we were small

And so, across a country and through time, we grew, and we were us.

And now
as I sit in marble and wood and glass and flower
and love and excitement murmur in old hallways with soft voices
I think about this time, this place, this me,
and a man with kind, dark eyes
and the warm smile of a brother, and a son,
and to the girl with summer hair I knew,
and woman that I wait for here today,
a husband.

She will struggle
and when she struggles, he will comfort her.
He will fight
and her strong voice will join with his,
and they will win.

And time and distance will come and go,
and always,
as there was always us,
there will be them:
waiting at the end with an embrace
and whispered words for nobody else.

And as I stand before you now
the many Uses and the many Thems,
I think about a girl, a woman, sister,
and a friend, a man, a brother,
And how many, many stories
that they have yet to write.

And now-

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I remember

You in a white dress. Excuse my active imagination at six and twenty six but the way the pristine snow fluttered like a bad heart in a clear blue breeze made my mind choke. Nested on your scalp before the plates fused, a million spiders dropped a million silken tethers and took off some day before I saw you. I never touched your hair but it’s the softest thing I ever wondered about, and when I crossed that bridge and carried you back I knew we would fight for this side of the threshold.

You with a lion face. I ran down the ridge of your temples to catty eyes and followed smooth tearless plains to your thin, pursed lips. When I was everything I hated, you were all coiled springs and hard ash and frightening elegance for a later time. I wanted to draw you like a bow. When I was unmanned you soothed me, and I was never so grateful for a gift given coldly.

You in the secret dark and the dust. I didn’t need a light down there when your blue eyes peered in after us. We went there to escape, and nothing was ever as easy as running away into you. You are the first thing that ever taught me Want.

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