Bio Note: With so little new happening in the COVID year except for the restrictions, it has been easy for me to focus on remembering. Especially as age brings some temptations to forget. "Timing" is the story of love relationship that is included in my new chapbook, Checkered Mates, out now from Kelsay Books. . "Remember" records what I don't want even if it might be convenient.
A twist of sunlight insists I go back to when it began, to that orange you tossed through an open window onto my desk littered with writing that wanted to be important but was as flimsy as night air, as thin as our first kiss outside a door in a cooling-off fall, or your whistle below a metal window, a memory stunning in the way of the cardinal’s happiness this June morning. May blessings be in what’s remembered from best, from simple times your bike followed mine as we weaved among the eucalyptus with our books flopping in canvas bags to long embraces in airports. My dogs rest in the grass, one in shade, one in sun until the sunny one rolls on her back and rolls on her aching spine, just enough to rejoice like the day she chased a cranky rooster and shut him up. That kindness of getting old. If you have enough days, you can choose to remember when good outweighed sad. The orange so ripe my fingers dripped sweet and that dog’s pride in tearing open the bird.
Originally published in Checkered Mates
Remember the key that always stuck three-quarters of the way through unlocking.
Remember you never saw the look on your mother’s face when she carried you home from the hospital during a power outage in that record-breaking blizzard.
Remember she once told you she thought she got the wrong child from the hospital.
Remember that the faith healer your parents hired failed to heal you.
Remember the smell of libraries.
Remember the father of your classmate who had a number on his arm.
Remember your father told you should become a teacher.
Remember he taught you to ride horses.
Remember the smell of tear gas.
Remember walking miles behind Joan Baez in a candlelight march in San Francisco protesting the Vietnam war.
Remember you wondered if it was really important to teach students how to use commas and semi-colons.
Remember the open casket of the ecologist killed when a cottonwood fell on her.
Remember how you learned meadow grasses and high mountain passes from a pinto pony and your father.
Remember the sunrise in New Orleans when dogs lay dead in the street and the second lines played jazz to put Katrina to rest.
Remember how your French teacher cried when Kennedy was shot.
Remember why your mother threatened to leave the DAR on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and why you rescinded membership years later.
Remember your father refused to honor that you kept your own name after you married but how he advocated for equity for others.
Remember why your picture was in the papers when you graduated from Yale.
Remember why you supported your mom in her consideration of physician-assisted suicide.
Remember your disabilities are not visible.
Remember your privileges, the many and the slight.
Remember you felt no fear in filing a report against an abusive police officer because of that privilege and you were heard.
Remember the professor who gave you a B when you deserved an A because you mouthed off in class about his male chauvinism.
Remember how many trees you have planted hundreds of miles apart from each other.
Remember the sound blueberries make rolling into a bucket.
Remember that the horses on big monuments who carry slaveowners and traitors did nothing wrong.
Remember the people to whom you told your scariest secret.
Remember that photos in the wedding album don’t say what really happened.
Remember every dog you needed to get you this far.
Remember how new mutts turn up when you need them.
Remember to nurture flowers even if you forget their names.
Remember to send more letters urging voters with spotty voting records to get out and vote.
Never forget that you can be surprised.
Remember the worst times may be in the past because less surprises you now.
©2021 Tricia Knoll
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