Friday, July 1, 2016

back in the saddle and living a lie

File under Silver Linings:  last week's episode with the unwelcome visitors (which seems to be concluded by the application of a fierce indoor heat treatment) required a kamikaze decluttering effort which laid bare the deeper strata of stuff in our house.  In the aftermath, we find ourselves putting back the essentials and opening up boxes like the very heavy one, taped shut since 1998, that has stood in our bedroom draped with a cloth and pretending to be a coffee table.

Lo, it contained notebooks!  My notebooks and journals from the very early years--high school, college, my 6 months in Germany after college.  Amid the excruciating details of my forever overlapping love interests-- (how the world has changed! My own 17-year-old, nor most of her friends, does not concern herself with boys or girls or any love interests but with her own mighty path of becomingness.  Is this true in other parts of the world, or is this specific to her and her microcosm?)--there are POEMS to discover, including this one, typed on an actual typewriter and then marked up and down.  It was folded into my journal from 1984-85, my senior year in college.

Careful readers of  Squeeze may recognize a precursor to my poem "The Moon Moves," which in more than one place I claim to have written first as a 2nd-grader.  Apparently I have been living that lie for all it's worth!  The original version above is clearly based on bike trips I took in the dark during my summer at home in Richmond in 1984, where I visited childhood stomping grounds and viewed them with all the wisdom and perspective of a 20-year-old--"old rounds, new."

Of course, nothing is exactly proven except the fact that I have a a really faulty memory.  It is still possible that somewhere I might turn up an original first poem about riding my bike in the dark at age 7 or 8 (mothers let their kids do that back in 1972).  But I think, in trawling my mind for material for Squeeze, that I neatly bypassed the memory of this composed college version of my kid experience and recreated it as a directly experienced episode of my childhood.

But wait!  There's more!  Looking yet more closely at my 1985 draft, I also see elements of another Squeeze poem, "Singing the Swing:" 

old rounds,                                                                  new

Now I swing and point my toes                                   reach out with your toes
straight into the mottled sky.                                        kick at the clouds

I, the chains and the earth,                                           hold safe to the chains
we swing a scalene explosion                                      you're rooted in earth but you're singing the swing

However it has all developed, the Silver Linings file is getting fat, because THIS is why I keep stuff!  Too much stuff, to be sure, but I keep it because

1) the proven fact that I have a really faulty memory
2) writers should never erase or trash anything--
    you never know when or why it may come in interesting, if not actually handy, and
3) "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," and I prefer to repeat my past with a sense of awareness.

I look forward to a steadier, more reciprocal participation in Poetry Friday for the rest of the summer.  Thanks to Tabatha for hosting today at The Opposite of Indifference, where her theme of mistakes offers ample room for my lie the size of the moon!


  1. Heidi, I cracked up laughing when I read your line about the box pretending to be a coffee table! Then had a serious "I get you" moment when it turned out to be old journals. I have one of those boxes, not big enough to be a coffee table, underneath my bed. Yep. Never throw those old things out. Love seeing where those old words turned up in your work.

  2. 'THIS is why I keep stuff!' Oh yes! ME TOOOOO!!! Love this post, Heidi! And your faulty memory. And your keepers! (Definitely keepers!) :)

  3. I think many of our mistakes are the result of faulty memories! Memory is a tricky thing. Perhaps especially for people with wonderful imaginations? Keeping copies of everything is a fine idea.

  4. Those unwelcome visitors proved welcome indeed if they unearthed treasures, Heidi. I sometimes worry that I might have remembered a line from someone else's poem & think it's mine, yikes! Love that you found these connections! Keeping everything is good, and time to find another table too!

  5. I loved reading your literary scholarship of your own writing!

  6. How much do I love this post? Let me count the ways... the poetry, your self-awareness, unflappable sense of humor, etc. So glad you excavated this treasure and shared it with us. Who knows? Maybe your 20-year-old self was recalling that 7-year-old experience! As you said, we were allowed to run much wilder back then than would be acceptable now. At any rate, that moon's been shedding silver linings on you for a long time, and She'll continue to do so for years to come.

  7. Glad to hear that the unwelcome visitors are vanquished and that you made such a fabulous discovery! How fun to find echoes of your poems going back and back and back!

  8. Love this, Heidi - and all its permutations! (I also like seeing your notes and edits) I may hold onto too many things for far too long...but I'm glad I still have my journals.

  9. I love the echos of this poem through your lifetime development as a poet, Heidi! I aim to emulate your pearl of wisdom: "I prefer to repeat my past with a sense of awareness" - me too. =)

  10. I hope the unwelcome are truly gone now. I love that you had morphed college days into 2d grade. That's the challenge for those of us writing for kids. It's hit or miss whether we are remembering as 8 year olds or 18 year olds.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!