That’s all that I remember.
My mother looking up
at six year old me
from the bottom of the stairs,
telling me grandma was dead.

I probably cried when grandma died.
I wasn’t allowed at the funeral
and that’s all that I remember.

Memories are like dredging
an old lake bottom,
forgotten boot here,
old boat motor there,
dead grandma, distant
figure on foggy shore.

I found a handmade booklet
from elementary school claiming
I authored the never-a-memory
tale of swimmer encounters octopus,
echo of childhood nightmare
resolved into happy ending.
There is no memory
of inking word to page
but the book I can hold.

I remember the passing car
that shouted “Queers!”
and slammed on its brakes
when one finger saluted their cheer.

I remember my mom calling me sissy
when I wore long pants on a hot day.
Makes no sense, but I remember.

At least I think I do.
I tell myself I remember
but truly there is nothing left
but memories of memories,
no more than distant shapes
in murky water,
sharper edges easier to see
as they ever sink
further out of reach.


Note: The first line of this poem (italicized above) is the final line of the poem “Incident” by Countee Cullen.

©2023 Kenneth W. Arthur