Things I Remember

I don’t know why paper made me cry.


Lay my head on the table,

cheek, nose pressed against the coarse, white sheet.

Breathe in the ink, the pulp, the puzzle piece memories.

Is it strange to say the scent reminds me of you?

Your familiar cologne of age and wood, sun and sweat,

that clinging nicotine

comes off the page.

I would run into you at the end of the day, bury

my face in your torn sweatshirt, inhale.

You covered me with your arms, press your grin

into my curls, laughing.

Day after day,

the paper smell wrapped itself around you and me.


We were happy,

I think.


Each year steals a bit of you from my mind,

till I am left with a poor outline.

What remains was made by Picasso’s brush:

fractured, fragmented, fictitious,

it is a cubist’s dream,

but I am no artist.


Your portrait I paint with cluttered impressions:

piles of pancakes,

a mustachioed smile.

Laughter and light,

waves and carnival screams,

a soccer ball, the blur of black and white

as it meets the net, your yell from the sidelines;

a happy cry, daddy, I layer onto my

paper mache creation.


Pictures recall your rust-red skin, the suns tattoo, or

a symbol of the too great effort

your fatal heart made,

and your work worn hands, marked

by the hammer and nails of your day;

the eyes you gave me,

teardrop, Mom says.

The fuzz of hair that meant you were not bald, yet.


He loved you,

they say.

You were his little girl,

they say.

So much of you is supplied

by them.


Eight year olds don’t hoard away memories,

when they were supposed to have a lifetime.

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One Response to “Things I Remember”

  1. eswanton Says:

    I found the poem’s tone very coherent. The last line really brought together the mournful tone. It did this in an interesting way because it also reminded me as the reader to be sad for the memories that would not happen. You also did a great job alluding to the disease without flat out saying what it was in the second stanza third line, “Each year steals a bit of you from my mind.” The reader was led to the conclusion it was Alzheimer’s without it being spoon fed to them. I however was slightly confused in the first stanza third line, “the pulp.” If you are reffering to the paper being pulp before it was made, I think that is a bit reaching as it goes for memories because you were not specifically at the mill when the paper was made. It is an odd memory to put here so I would suggest possibly removing it.

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