It was such a fine powder
that the shovel seemed like overkill
so I pulled out the leaf blower
and tethered myself to the garage
with the long orange extension cord.
In places it blew the fine particles away
from the tiny dimpled pads on a cat’s paw print
like an archaeologist’s brush,
leaving the faint foot print stubbornly intact
beside a stretch of black surface
where the heavily crushed tracks of the car
had flown away in my wind like flocks of white birds.
I can see clear pictures in my head
of things that happened long ago,
like catching crawcrabs in the creek
with my brother and his friends
the year I turned eight.
I can still smell the bullfrogs
that had grown from tadpoles
in my friend Jenelle’s aquarium
the summer I turned nine.
I can still taste the custard apples
we picked from the wild space
behind our house in Shirati when I was six.
I can still hear the hoot of a hyena
way off in the distance
on cool Tanzanian nights when I was five.
I cannot recall what I ate for supper last week,
nor what I told you about my journey
when I saw you at Christmas,
and I cannot remember why
I stood up just now and walked
into the other room.
What forces determine which pieces
will remain frozen to the surface,
and which will be blown away?
Why do some delicate paw prints
of the long-ago past continue
to tiptoe through my memories
while whole chunks
of yesterday’s heavy tire prints
whoosh away on the wind of time?
Yet others encounter opposing breezes
and drift back over time’s winds
to settle back in lacy veils
over the present moment.
What is the substance of memory?
I remember that I first met my grandmother
when I was three years old
just off the plane from Africa.
Is the image in my mind
my memory of that moment?
Or has it been blown there
by the breezes of story
told and retold in my family
of a child who ran into the arms
of a grandmother she had never met?
Perhaps it doesn’t matter.
And where now will it reside in my memory,
now that I have called it up into the present,
I who miss her so, who have a tender three-year-old
of my own, and tears in my eyes?
These stories of memory are gifts
that we give to our children, saying,
You are who you are in this moment,
like this fresh landscape of new-fallen snow.
But also here in this moment you are who you were,
like the grass that stretches up through the powder.
And you are who you will be,
as the winds blow across,
constantly shifting the surface of things.
Prompt for Sunday
Thanks to Jodi Reinhart for the prompt today: Write a poem about the middle, about the anti-polarity. Oooh! You know you want to join me on this one.
2. Angels everywhere
3. The delight and focus of a 6-year-old who obsesses on a craft project
4. Sun to melt the drive and roads to blackness
May we walk in beauty.