We live in a modular world, things changing around us so fast that what we once thought we’d always remember can pass in a blur. We come together and we part, now close, now remote, castoff too fast to really memorize each other so that years later, we half-remember by a certain picture in the mind, a passing scent, a strain of music. Something. There was something special. Half-grasped, caught like a foxtail in our mind.
I love school reunions, it goes without saying. Rehashing our virile youth now that our hair is graying, our stories grow much shorter as our memories are fraying. I’ve drunk nostalgia from the cup, but now there’s no delaying.
The past is always with us, but alternatives I’m weighing.
I’ve an acumen for homecoming, but no talent for staying.
Once the bloom is off the rose, I have to be off straying.
The past is a dead horse, whereas my future self is neighing!
2016 (Click on photos to increase size and view as slides.)
Though memories are sketchy, those that remain are vivid— mere scraps of joy or humor or times when she was livid. No way to tell what snips of time her memory will nourish—
current relations lost to time while past ones live and flourish.
The mind does nasty tricks when it decides to misbehave. It may leave us abandoned within its darkening cave, or perhaps it casts a cinema only one can see, drawing them into a world of dreams where they are free.
No one who walks through memory’s door can return to tell whether it is heaven or a living hell. Another trick of life that draws us fast within it, forcing us to play the game without a way to win it.
Why do all our memories fade out to pastels? The dulling of the colors, the muffling of the bells? Often we discover that a happening once dated becomes a strain of music half-remembered, mostly faded, and we labor to remember a life so full and vast that fades down to a shadow relegated to the past. Better to infuse the present with such light that all its various colors shine out vividly and bright.
At times you were the problem and at other times the buttress.
At times my lost direction and at other times my compass.
You were my kindred spirit, my teacher and my lover,
and when you went away, I felt that I could not recover.
I saw your face in everything—in rivers and in clouds.
A dozen times, your profile. Your retreating back in crowds.
Love dies but does not vanish. It has a thousand faces
seen at the least likely times in unexpected places.
Facts we can’t face up to in our mutual lives
swarm around in memory in buzzing swarming hives.
Facts as sweet as honey. Facts that sting like bees.
Niggling facts that seize the mind to torture or to tease.
It is a constant truth with love that one will first depart—
an act that seems so far away when love is at its start.
But the truth is always looming. Death will end what we’ve begun.
That inevitable setting of the brightest glowing sun.
Though my diurnal actions may be slower now and measured, imagination’s richer—its journeys fully treasured. I feel the whole world opening. I roam it at my will, unhampered by long distances—undaunted by each hill.
I explore new continents, revisit former haunts. In nocturnal wanderings, I enjoy surreal jaunts joined by friends departed, unhampered by my years. I do those things undone before, conquering all my fears.
Daily, I relate to friends by voice or screen or paper, confessing past adventures, admitting every caper. Laugh over pains and learn from misdeeds that I may have done— each ill-advised decision transmogrified to fun.
Life in the doing’s richer when we have vigor for it, and when our energy runs out, we still can re-adore it. Our memory is a treasure box with contents vast and rare, made richer by each telling. Increasing as we share.
Memories of her
stretch out like a voluptuous lover
over the couch of his mind.
He takes refuge in them in his loneliness,
gathering a sequelae
of the aftereffects of her loss
like a scratchy woolen blanket
drawn by habit,
offering little comfort.