Clocks are Circular
My grandmother has not forgotten me. My daughter,
a toddler, eats a clementine, does not remember
meeting her great grandmother a year ago, half
a lifetime from now for June.
Jacquie has had 87 years. She can remember every one
only as part of a whole. A past filled with woodstoves,
dogs in from the rain, children back from the mainland, doctor’s
examining her chest, a field full of sunflowers, a summer filled
with labor, an endless cycle of planting, of weeding.
Jacquie asks “where are your parents?” once and then again, again.
Every time she hears the repeated words for the first time, maybe,
with her new hearing aids. But she can remember us entering,
remember how much June ate at dinner last night. The lines
that memory makes are not straight, her childhood is there,
my father’s childhood, her other children now all parents themselves.
Other things go anyways. Just the other day I forgot
the word for glass, just for a moment, I pressed my hand against
the window as if that would tell me anything.
June just learned the word glass, but she still prefers to call it
window. My grandmother gleams with pride at each word June
offers her, even no and mine. With Jacquie’s memory it is hard to
tell what is gone, and what is always as it was.
She flooded the bathroom twice in two days, now and thirty years ago.
I still bathe June. Jacquie can still bathe herself.
The Love of My Life is Making Coffee in the Next Room
This is the way life works — the time one wakes up in the morning,
the dishes one washes, the smudges one wipes down, take on a repeating
pattern over time. The occasional things — attic visits and movies in
the garden, or just space alone in time, stand out.
At one time each cup of coffee you made for me was notable.
There was the learning of the machine, the purchase
of a better steaming wand, the testing of milk, the occasionally
ongoing search for beans, but slowly, over time, even the search became routine —
became comfort, became part of the glow that lights the house
I live in, even when I forget to flip the switch.
Caitlin Thomson is the co-founder of The Poetry Marathon, an international writing event. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including: The Adroit Journal, Rust + Moth, Barrow Street Journal, and Killer Verse. You can learn more about her writing at www.caitlinthomson.com.