Friday, February 2, 2024

Poetry is Hard, Memory is Sweet


I’ve been sick this last week – the same old cold, flu-like symptoms, sniffly, stuffy, sneezy gunk that has meandered across this modern country for decades at least.

“Somethings going around” they say. No real treatment. Common.

So, I am not as prepared today as I sometimes am; more prepared than others, honestly.


I have struggled with finding a clear timeline through my life. “Now” roams through it all like that same virus that sores my throat and muddles my mind a bit. You know this, I’ve mentioned it before… like, well, all the time. As hard as it is to explain sometimes makes me think is just me.

And then you recognize it somewhere else. 

Someone mentions how they can’t remember when something was, but it seems like just yesterday. 

You see a face, your face, mine, and can’t imagine when that face is, could it possibly be me, you, now? 

A sun sets in tomorrows yet to come… today.

Sometimes you can read it in a favorite Christmas story by Dickens.

Sometimes it weeps from a poem by Li-Young Lee:




I was tired. So I lay down.
My lids grew heavy. So I slept.
Slender memory, stay with me.
I was cold once. So my father took off his blue sweater.
He wrapped me in it, and I never gave it back.
It is the sweater he wore to America,
this one, which I've grown into, whose sleeves are too long,
whose elbows have thinned, who outlives its rightful owner.
Flamboyant blue in daylight, poor blue by daylight,
it is black in the folds.
A serious man who devised complex systems of numbers and rhymes
to aid him in remembering, a man who forgot nothing, my father
would be ashamed of me.
Not because I'm forgetful,
but because there is no order
to my memory, a heap
of details, uncatalogued, illogical.
For instance:
God was lonely. So he made me.
My father loved me. So he spanked me.
It hurt him to do so. He did it daily.
The earth is flat. Those who fall off don't return.
The earth is round. All things reveal themselves to men only gradually.
It won't last. Memory is sweet.
Even when it's painful, memory is sweet.
Once I was cold. So my father took off his blue sweater.


Poetry is hard. Yes.


(Thanks for reminding me of this one, Nick.)


If you are ever looking for a long-forgotten poem, it's probably here,


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