Monday, October 22, 2007


Now that Adriana is pulling up all the time, yet another level of our bookshelves are being cleared daily. This morning I picked up the books of poetry she'd pulled off the shelf, glancing idly through the pages of an Adrienne Rich collection before returning it too its place. The next book I picked up was my copy of Backroads, my high school's fine arts magazine, of which I was a co-editor my senior year. While the baby napped, I sat and read, flipping back and forth through the thin book, looking at the crazy collection of fonts, remembering faces and conversations as I saw the names on each page, and smiling at the words of teenagers. I remembered the classroom where I'd sat with my creative writing classmates, sifting through submissions--poems scratched out in pencil on wrinkled notebook paper, carefully typed poems with careful meter and rhyme, drawings tucked carefully into sturdy envelopes, and black-and-white photos printed in the school's darkroom. I remembered designing pages, and having staff hand me little floppy disks with their pages on them. I remembered the sense of accomplishment when the other editor, our advisor, and I took the final pages to the printer, and how afterwards Ms. Logan took Meghan and me for an ice cream and then taught us how to parallel park.

I thought about the creative writing class. That last year (I took it for three years) my cousin sat behind me. We were a little clique--Sky and me, Jaron who I'd known since pre-school, Andy who was a friend of both of them, in a band with Sky. I sat and wondered what became of Jaron and Andy as I read their poems, trying to recall when I'd last seen either one of them, and made a mental note to ask Sky. I stopped again as I came across the name of a tall, thin quiet boy from the class, a couple of years younger than I was, someone who I'd completely forgotten about, and I wondered what happened to him; and then what became of the girl whose poem is on the page before, a girl who was good at math and played one of the lead roles in the school production of Three Sisters for which I was stage manager. I read a poem by the woman who edited the magazine the year before I did; it was a good poem, and I hoped that she was doing something interesting, that she was happy. I passed over a poem by a girl I hadn't liked without reading it, and smiled as I read a funny poem by someone from my journalism class. Then there was one by someone I saw a couple of years ago at a wedding, and one by my best friend, who I have been meaning to call for weeks.

And then there was my name at the bottom of one page. I stopped there, looking at my name for a moment, almost afraid to look up at the words above it, words I couldn't really remember. Then I read over the prose-poem. It was a bit trite, I thought. I tried to remember writing it. Was I sitting on my bed? Did I begin it sitting at that corner desk in the creative writing class? Was it something I'd scribbled while sitting at a table in the school library during a free period when I was meant to be doing my trig homework? I stared at the words, but I couldn't recall. I tried to imagine those words coming from me, the memory wouldn't come. It has been too long, as if the words were written by another person completely.

I flipped through the pages again and found another poem I'd written, this one with a sing-song sort of rhyme to it but a similar theme. Again, I thought it was a little trite, but cute, something written by someone else entirely, it seemed. I thought there was probably one more, and I scanned the contents page until I saw my name again. The title listed by my name didn't mean anything to me. I tried to remember writing something with that title, but couldn't. Finally I turned to page 60, and saw the poem. Now I remembered. I still didn't remember writing it, but I remembered the poem. Reading it now, more than ten years later, was strange. It was the only really personal poem of the three of mine in the magazine. I read it over a few times, wondering what I was thinking. It's kind of a funny poem--as if I was simultaneously trying to write out how I saw myself at 17 and trying to define who I wanted to be at that moment. Perhaps I was trying to reconcile the two. What was I thinking when I wrote it? What did my mother thing when I brought home the copy of the magazine? Did I read this poem out loud when we had our reading when the magazine was published? I doubted it, but I couldn't remember.

Adriana woke up from her nap, and I read through all three of my poems again as I watched her play. Will she write poetry as a teenager? Will she someday read the poems that I wrote as a teenager and laugh at how silly her mother was? What would I have thought at seventeen if someone had told me where I would be today?

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