Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Important Stories

Memories. Some just float through the mind like lapping waves and recede, maybe forever.  Others, you notice.  Perhaps because they are cherished or, obversely, tamped down or just because they recur but for no apparent reason. Like plot points in a novel, they reveal more than others.  They are in the "My Important Story" category; vignettes worth examining for what they disclose about your life.  Here is one of my important stories.

I'm three years old sitting alone in a large room at a work table in an orphanage.  I have a tablet with slots in it. In front of me is a big pile of letters that I must sort through and match on my tablet words that have been written on a blackboard.  I've been at it for a long time.  I'm tired and I can't find a second "b" in the letter pile to write my final word, "baby" and hi Mr. Freud.  Fear is my strongest feeling.  A woman dressed in a black robe and hood will be coming through the door to check on me at any moment.  Just as the door opens I find a "b" and insert it in the tablet.  End of memory.

For a long time, this was a sad memory for me but no more.  What happened was that I found so much in it that fits my life story.  Fear is still a presence in my life (duh) but in this vignette I am industrious, I like the little letters and the noise they make as I insert them, I don't give up, and most importantly, despite my fear, I'm successful.  Also, letters made into words have always been important to me and finally,  I know that when I am lonely, someone always comes through one door or another.  As you can see, I squeezed a lot out of this memory. It's good to tell your important stories.

Here's a poem that somewhat relates to this piece.  How, I'm not quite sure . But it's a room, unopened for a long time, full of memories.

Jim's Cottage

Shocked by the breeze,
the room moves.
Newspaper meal
blows off the table,
coal dust shifts in the grate
and on the wall, a palm crucifix

the curtain lifts its grimy hem
and waves.
A small remembrance
of another time.
Of April air,
of clean and white
and free-flapping on the line.

Bridget Harwell

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