tuesday, january 21

history

earlier this week i took a handful of objects
that reminded me of the not-too-distant past
(a drawing in ink, a box my sister made me one
christmas, a film canister containing the
fragments of a single rose petal)
and put them (after smashing or scattering
several) in the trash under my sink

i've got a lot of sentimental habits, i guess,
and one of those prerational suspicions
that there's some basic magic in
the owning of memories-in-things

but if adulthood hasn't cured me of this
superstition, it has at least led me to realize
that all such magic cuts and binds with little regard
to the will of the user

and to speak of this is to speak of memory itself,
the costs of keeping a personal history and the way
that in writing it over and over again for ourselves

a time once illuminated by the light of circumstance
can turn from temporary joy into the permanent ache of
its absence, casting a shadow across days and years
until chance and forgetting render it anodyne

when i knew less of the fragility of the world
and thought myself stronger
i believed in memory
and my fitness to carry
some measure of its cargo;

now i wonder if we are the kind of animals
who can withstand the echoes of our previous selves

at all