Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lists of Memories

April 9, 2011 "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." Paul Valery

Place of My Mind

I hear the family’s tales, and I need to list them, write them down. They are who I am, child of my mother, my aunt, my uncle—stories, stories. Down the streets we travel, relishing, embellishing. Here is the old firehouse, where baby Linda, spoiled by the nanny, sounded the alarm, made firemen come—a story forever.

Here is the corner, the Huff house. I know it well yet have never entered. It’s mother’s childhood story, of loss in the Depression. Two families split the house down the middle to save illusions, to eat more than potatoes, to avoid worse.

Here is the grove on the farm—Pilot Grove—a guide to the place, announcing endings for some, beginnings for my family. My great, great grandfather moved here from Virginia, to prove the land, and perhaps himself.

Over the hill is the farmyard, only known in spring because the daffodils still arrive. It’s where Uncle Billy stepped on the nail. Tetanus (lockjaw!) meant high fever, dark rooms, children hidden away to mend or die. He lived—lucky for me—to teach me how to fish. There, the barn foundation. Grandmother’s horse Lady took her oats there—Grandmother made the town talk, no sidesaddle for her! When mother took her first ride, her only ride, the ‘falling’ ride, she rose with dangling arm. Parents were grim with worry, over the pain and the expense.

Now, back into town, see the front porch of the white house on Main Street. At four: “Linda, Linda, don’t play with that jar.” Broken, cut wrist, blood down the front of newly ironed, starched, white pinafore. But also see the maple tree in the back, now reaching old age—branches holding dreams of a young girl, wondering who she will become.

I know many stories of this beginning place of my life, and I am the only one left to understand, to know which streets, which houses hold them. Who are-were-the Huff’s, the Brownfield’s, the Babbitt’s? If I don’t list them, who? If I don’t remember, where will they go?


  1. Sounds like there are a few books, short stories or whatever you feel like doing, written for family so that theses stories live on. You could even take pictures to go along with your memories/memoirs! I'm not in your family and I'd be interested to know more about some of them. The blood on the white pinafore? Sounds like a story to me.

  2. Mmmm. Made me think of similar stories that need writing. You need to write them...If not you who?

  3. Wow did you ever make me visualize! The way your wrote many lines gave your piece a rhythm that reminded me of how my grandparents would talk when they were telling a story. Wonderful voice.


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