To continue reading this article you must become a subscriber.
Long ago I was born.
There is no one alive anymore
who remembers me as a baby.
Was I a good baby? A
bad? Except in my head
that debate is now
a bad baby, I wondered. Colic,
my mother said, which meant
it cried a lot.
What harm could there be
in that? How hard it was
to be alive, no wonder
they all died. And how small
I must have been, suspended
in my mother, being patted by her
What a shame I became
verbal, with no connection
to that memory. My mother’s love!
All too soon I emerged
my true self,
robust but sour,
like an alarm clock.
A sickness came over me
whose origins were never determined
though it became more and more difficult
to sustain the pretense of normalcy,
of good health or joy in existence —
Gradually I wanted only to be with those like myself;
I sought them out as best I could
which was no easy matter
since they were all disguised or in hiding.
But eventually I did find some companions
and in that period I would sometimes walk
with one or another by the side of the river,
speaking again with a frankness I had nearly forgotten —
and yet, more often we were silent, preferring
the river over anything we could say —
on either bank, the tall marsh grass blew
calmly, continuously, in the autumn wind.
And it seemed to me I remembered this place
from my childhood, though
there was no river in my childhood,
only houses and lawns. So perhaps
I was going back to that time
before my childhood, to oblivion, maybe
it was that river I remembered.