This month, I’m writing words and posting images relating to the landscape of memory. I hope to write poems most days and also share photos, quotes, and more prosaic thoughts related in some way to memory, nostalgia, longing for place, remembering and forgetting, landscape, dreamscape, landscape’s memory and memory’s landscape, the intersection of the layered historical physical world with personal memory, the frames that both landscape and memory use to contain and order our focus, the landscape of childhood, the landscape of devastation, how memories lie and tell the truth, the fragmentation of memory, how landscapes shape us and our memories, and so on. All the posts will be linked to the Introductory Page as they are posted. Thanks for visiting.
Today, a poem draft.
I’ve forgotten many more years than I’ve lived,
when you tot it all up, not only years
but seasons and weeks, a mass of moments
that won’t come again and weren’t there at all
if you believe my memory, and who could,
such a sodden storehouse of misfit bits,
rusted hooks and hinges, handwritten paper
soaked through and through?
What can I make of this trove
of ephemera, this steeping residue?
Somehow I’m here, alive in a place
I never imagined while living those days
that felt just as true as today. Those days
were so palpable, they felt like real days,
immersed as I was in a country so vital,
without knowing it as an unfolding story.
Now, paging across the smudge of time
through this ghost-written novel I find
it’s not only plotless, regrettably so,
unbothered by need of narrative arc, but more
it’s steamed bleary, wet
with the passage of armfuls of summers:
postcards and tears, the mornings and cocktails,
the nights and the artless contours of beauty,
all leaking, staining, slurring their lines.
Millennia of what once was a limpid life —
or it felt that way, or did it? —
have dwindled to snippets of garbled speech;
quivering concealment of names and faces; places
dislodged mingling incongruously, layer on layer,
the shape of one sunporch and the mood of another
fuse a mythical memory, the alloy stronger than either itself,
and throughout, engulfing what’s already fog-logged and woozy,
a murky ocean, capacious and glassy, where if
specifics or revelations swim they’re unnoticed
like blind listless fish, distortions
below, far below the surface, unfathomed.
Wow. This “draft” feels epic to me. After writing from an obviously flawed memory for years, I am curious about how my “true essence” intersected the stories I told myself. Reviewing the stories reveals changes in perspective I couldn’t imagine when I began.
Are you feeling as discouraged as this poem sounds?
Not feeling discouraged, at least not about this (about the house hunt a bit, yes). It’s the way my memory has always been and it just feels like “the way it is,” but I also channeled my mother and her dementia as I was revising it.