Sunday Poems 38: On Memories

A few months ago, my mother’s basement flooded. The whole place was a write-off. An insurance company took over rebuilding after hauling away everything that was down there. recently, the basement was refinished and the boxes of all of our possessions returned. On Friday morning, I went over there to help sort and move things. My mother decided that it was time to pack up many boxes to go to Goodwill. We opened several boxes of my childhood things. Keepsakes are a way of externalizing our memories. They are an extension of our brains. This is why mementos are so hard to get rid of: to give them away is to give away a part of our mind.

It turns out that the way we deal with the huge amount of information we take in during our lifetime is to put back out there again. With time, what we keep in our head becomes less accessible, it fades. Objects do too, but they usually don’t have to disappear entirely unless we choose to disappear them. My mother and I parted with some objects tomorrow that mean we lose a part of ourselves, but faced with the risk of drowning in our possessions, we chose to trust what remained. After all, memories were meant to fade to be replaced by new memories. We have more of our lives ahead of us.

Sundays are for sleeping in late. Catching up. Wondering why you always need to catch up. Making up a sleep debt is not a simple thing. After one night’s poor sleep, your formation of memories (an important part of REM sleep) is comprimised for the next three days, because your body needs time to readjust to a normal sleep cycle again. For whatever reason, we’re not very good at dealing with unusual sleep patterns. Before electric lights, there was little reason to deviate. Light was scarce, and it made sense to sleep. Having to deal with all hours of the night is a new thing, and your body doesn’t really understand why it doesn’t get dark. Below is a poem. If you enjoy it, please share it with a friend. As always, I’m here if you need to talk. Have a great week, everybody.


i sat down and googled
your name to match it
to your face.

i found the match:
it’s you.

there’s a blog,
i opened your blog.

i can’t talk about it.

in the basement with my mother
we’re going through a box of
my old notebooks.

she’s reading the poems
i wrote when i was
much younger.

she’s reading one aloud to me
this one is sweet, she says.

she’s making the smile
which she always does
before she cries.

i’m at home at my desk.

it’s been six hours
since i looked at your blog.

i’m caught by surprise: i’m weeping,
a tree in the wind.

sometimes people are evil
and it helps them sleep at night.

i see your face smiling at sleep.

do you sleep better than i do?

you smile at me
as you walk by.

what do you think i am
to deserve your smile?

i am not what you think i am.

or you practiced smiling
at everything, instead of
a flicker of empathy.

maybe you think i should
be grateful that i get to see
your beautiful smile.

i suppose i am glad
you’ve shown me that
sometimes a smile is awful.

and that writing
can follow you
as a violence.

Originally published June 26, 2016.

Theodore Fox is a poet living on Treaty Six land in Canada.
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