I walked back into my past today. Not on purpose. I went back into the neighborhood where my granddad used to live and once again I was standing face-to-face with my Past. The biting anger in her eyes and the coldness of her soul entered me once again. My Past. And it hit me that all my memories of childhood are bad experiences. I can’t remember running through the grass barefoot. I cannot remember playing with my cousins. I know I did because there are pictures. The vivid memories that invade my mind are the ones where someone is hurting me. In fact, it all began with my very first memory. The memory of hearing my parents arguing and hearing my dad threaten my mother. That’s it. That’s all I have left of their marriage. I don’t know what they have; they don’t discuss those years anymore. It’s a part of the family past that’s been buried. But, for me, it’s always there. And the only memory that makes me smile is when I remember the scent of honeysuckle. I know that I was surrounded by honeysuckle.
So, I started asking my kids to recount memories of their childhood. Happy memories. I needed to know that I had kept what happened to me from happening to them. And once they started talking, we were relishing in a flood of memories. Times that made us laugh and times that made us cry, but they were happy tears. Satisfied, that they had not been denied a childhood because I somehow failed to protect them. I held onto the driftwood pieces of their memories.
And I composed this poem:
Pieces of my childhood
in the whirlwind of years.
Trying to grasp the driftwood
memories, I continually miss
the ones where I must have smiled
at least once or twice.
The only memories keeping me afloat
are the ones that are trying to drown me
in dysfunction. I refuse to believe
the memories that must’ve buoyed
my spirit are lost forever
never to be re-claimed. I continually
search the well of memories
but every one that my hand touches
burns and I let go once again.
I was birthed in a void where
everything was exactly as it seemed.
So, now maybe you see
why I will never believe in fairy tales;
how can I believe in happily ever after
when my childhood is another poison apple
and every time I bite into it, I quickly
spit it out so I won’t be forced to remember
how little girls became women overnight
while other girls were sleeping and visions
of sugar plums danced in their head
grown men climbed into my bed
claimed my soul as theirs. And even
now they won’t let go of my soul.
I fight every day and pray for release
and pray for the day when I’ll have
driftwood pieces of memories that won’t
try to drown me.
Peace & Love,