memories

i set the table with great precision 
cluttering all things all over, that i just 
refuse to put inside drawers.

there’s a pencil stand on the left 
with two pens that don’t work
ornate, from a holiday long forgotten
but pretty and nostalgic 

next to it, i keep the picture
in the frame made of ice-cream sticks 
that Kate made for me when i left for college
so that i didn’t forget her and what we had 
before it all changed

i lean the card 
Susan and Joe made me 
for my 18th birthday, when we were barely friends
against the frame 
to remind me, wine grows tastier with age

i put the little box with the bandana 
in the centre, place a ring inside it and put
it under the diary 
all souvenirs from past loves lost 

stick the polaroid shot of my college friends on top
7 girls in various degrees 
of pretentiousness
reminder of the fun and confusion that college gave.

below it i put my favourite books
all young-adult, to remind grown up me
to not “forget what it’s like
to be 16, the moment they turn 17.”

at the other edge is my box
of random things

a broken toy phone, a hair clip 
a paper boat, beads, stickers
a miniature bottle, an empty cigarette pack
weird stuff which i just couldn’t throw away
so i stored it.

looking through it now thinking 
how i must have thought these things 
to be important enough that i saved them
to laugh or smile at later.

soon the table gathers dust. 
my mother always told me 
that the weather here
didn’t permit all this fancifulness i enjoy, 
that i should put away things in drawers and lockers
and cupboards, behind
wood and glass.

but when i sit at the table on my laptop
working
not sparing a single thought
to these things right in front of me;
will i even wonder
about these things if i hide them away
until a cleaning spree
when my eyes will water from allergies 
and memories.

i’m worried already about 
how much i have forgotten
what if i wake up one day 
and forget the names of the people 
in the pictures.

i map everything out
i sit and write and write 
type away at my laptop 
wanting to store everything i remember;
but some threads don’t meet
others i just can’t figure out
the starts and ends.

so i ask for forgiveness from
13 year old me for losing my diary
16 year old me for losing that letter
20 year old me for losing my favourite book
22 year old me for losing my iPod with all my old favourites.

i hope they’ll forgive me somehow
i hope they’d just be happy living when they lived
not worrying if i’d remember it now.

my son crawls into the room
giggling, knowing he’s somewhere
he’s not supposed to be at.
i pick him up and put him on my lap
he struggles to get on the table, i laugh
as he pushes most things off and
pulls himself up straight
taking his first ever steps 
on all those things i saved. 

i hope he forgives me if i forget
how overjoyed i was 
to see him then.