I remember standing beneath that warm summer sun, or perhaps it was spring, when the scent of over ripe strawberries filled the air and the drone of the cicadas were the music of the day. Everywhere it came from like speakers in the trees and ground. I remember hearing the never-ending buzz, just one into another as I sat beneath the plum-tree, their dark purple-almost black color as they clung to the branches like I think olives would, except to me they were magical plums, dripping a golden bead out of some.
I remember my boundaries, marked by the places in the yard, where I could go, where I was told not to go and then there were my thoughts, where my dreams allowed me to go.
I remember the hot haze of the day as I stood there alone, perhaps seven or so years old, doesn’t really matter because I remember it all as if it were now. I looked out towards the fields behind the tall pine trees, past the trees the marker of where I could not go. The place back where there was an old detached box car from a tractor-trailer, the place we found the dead cat trapped within, on a day not like today, in a place we weren’t supposed to go.
I remember the air and staring at the skies and feeling so loved by this nature world, by the clouds above me and I knew and felt good being here alone, like this was how many days would be and it was comforting the way the scent of the concord grapes in fall filled the air and left me craving a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, but that wasn’t today, that was so very long ago, in a time after the cherries had been picked away by the birds, the ones we could reach turned into sweet pies with golden crusts. Days when the windows were open to cool the house and school was out and I was free.
I remember the smell of honeysuckle and hay as it was cut for the farmers, for the cows down the street where we got out milk, heavy cream in tall bottles with cardboard caps that smelled like the dairy, like cows that ate the grass and lived free beyond the barn, not like now where the milk has no smell and the cardboard gets smushed up and put in the recycling bin, no trace of cows or their scent.
I remember the smell of that day as I stood there in the glory of nature, in my backyard alone in my little town, and the feel of it all, the sights, sounds and scents, and the utter joy of being in that moment.
I remember that moment, and when I die, I hope I return to that place in time, young and free and filled with the simple joy of being under a distant warm sun that spoke to me so long ago.
“In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps His eye on us all
And He used to lean upon me
As I pledged allegiance to the wall
Lord I recall
My little town”
Simon and Garfunkel
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. You could start by adopting Brainard’s uniform habit of starting every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in. At any rate, hopefully you’ll wind up with a poem that is heavy on concrete detail, and which uses that detail as its connective tissue. Happy writing!
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