In Case I Forget

Jun 1, 2023


She used to ask me in her later years,

“Why do you think I’m remembering that

after all this time?”


In protest, she was, perplexed and pained.

She had no idea how “just don’t think about that

would one day become a memory stack,

a backlog, an archive of film clips

waiting to be spliced back into place.


She had no idea her memories would

plague and prod,

search for settle and sense.

How they’d resurface events stinging with once silenced feelings,

aching for resolve, begging to rest in –


neither of us knew

that’s what memories did.



Memories wield power, no doubt.

A dreaded memory can quicken an unexpected clench,

replaying a temporary death long buried,

but, like Jack’s box, with a simple turn

the scene pops out. The heart hesitates

yanked back into an unwelcome yesterday.

There are memories overstuffed with joy,

a swollen heart delivers cherished tears.

Memories caught in precious snapshots

carefully fixed on raw-edged, black pages

with golden corners.

Others complicated by pain

and shame, and regret, and loss

locked in a cabinet drawer,

along with mementos of loves fought for

and lost.

There are memories longing to be free,

aired out – flapping in the breeze.

Memories appreciated anew as life’s teachers,

forging needed perspective, acting as healers.

Confusing childhood memories, where you become Bambi.

ones where you think, “that can’t be.”

There are chuckle-producing memories,

and reminiscence still stoking the fires of intimacy.


And in time, there will be fuzzy memories, fading memories,

storylines falling away – a memory failing.



There were memories

once held secure with cellophane tape

now yellowed and useless,

sloughed into a crevice,

leaving only a faint glue-shadow in its place.



When the search for missing memories consumed her waking,

when unrelated pieces of life’s disintegrating film reel

were all that was left to pick up off the floor, she found solace with

unseen visitors who arrived from the ceiling’s edge

through a veil familiar to those nearest death.

And with their appearance came borrowed memories

on fresh celluloid, allowing life’s cinema to roll again

with invented scenes, enduring dreams, imaginary actors.

Escapades she recited as her own –

recounted to her child now grown,

someone she welcomed

as a kind interested stranger.



My grandmother and two aunts died

separated from their memories.

Like Mom, their hearts’ last beats

pumped into gasping bodies with vacant eyes.


I stow the car key, with my ear buds, a pack of gum

in the same place, on the wicker mat

next to the cookie jar,

a 1940’s yellow Dutch-girl cookie jar,

the one that survived all my childhood cookie sneaking,

and remained faithful on Mom’s kitchen counter after Dad died,

the one she carefully packed to move from Detroit to Seattle,

the same Dutch-girl that holds cookies for my grandchildren.


There, next to the ear buds and the gum, I can always find the key.

A talisman act to stave off any hint that my memories

may one day dwindle and







Post Script

Memories imprint the human heart

with much needed faith that tomorrow will arrive as promised.

Braiding together you, me and our stories through time,

producing a unique documentary

commemorating purpose and personhood.


Lucky enough, it’s my turn to welcome life’s reruns,

to revisit memories nudging toward settle and sense.

I’ve always known I had her smarts –

only time will reveal if I got her brain.


For now, with the time left,

I entwine memories – however painful – with love,

like salve softening the brittle edges of aging,

a remedy relieving the lingering harshness

from a life that wasn’t always kind.


Each gentle wrap adds strength

to a perfectly knotted sapphire strand,

dangling from life’s corner,

there to grasp, to roll between my fingers,

to soothe, to

wear like a prayer


in case,

one day,

memories are no more.




Pie Crust
The Creek


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