- Mar 21, 2015
Today I wrote an email to thank a poet who had written these words describing poems he wrote after the death of his mother:
But each memory is a death in and of itself. A memory, it turns out, is simply a retelling of the last retelling which was a retelling of the last and on and on...we all know how that goes, trained in childhood by the game telephone. You whisper a sentence in someone's ear (in this case, your own) and they in turn whisper what they heard to the next person and by the time it winds its way back to you, it is a new sentence altogether. And so I ask you, boy of my flesh and my imagination, what do I still hold? And what of that is true? Strangely, the most overlooked sense of our five senses is the strongest in the end. I know your scent. It appears not to be a memory but perhaps deeper--a recognition of any mammal of her own offspring.
When I was house-sitting for Auntie Marla I slept in her room. Across from her bed she has her "ghosts" on a shelf: a picture of our Dad in his signature blue shorts and orange shirt, a painting that someone did of Linda's eyes and her photo of you that she calls, "The little god." Yes, I remember that you and your brother were like little gods set down among us. Your hair in that photo is luminous, so blonde it is almost white. Your eyes are piercing blue, before they mysteriously turned green, and you have the little compressed smile that you so often had, as if you had to hold all that mirth inside and just let a trickle out, for fear of what would happen if that much joy was released at once into the world. And of course there was always the irony in it--as if the absurdity of absolutely everything was already apparent to you at 3. Your chubby hands on the tricycle handlebars are full of purpose. You were always full of purpose. What the photo cannot hold is your voice back then--the clarity and purity of it. Sometimes I wish I had been one of those mothers that obsessively filmed and recorded your every move. I am so hungry for these pathetic representations and the memories they evoke. But then I think, no, they would be like a house full of too much stuff: momentarily satisfying but ultimately empty and burdensome. Because they are not you. I only still and forever want you. Not the memories, not the photos or my own stories, not the shrines or the garden, not anything that I can touch or see or hear now, all the illusions of my own making. I want what cannot be. I want the you that was separate from me.
radiant child. this thread should be a book.