Petite madeleines

The sound of sneakers

scraping against a sidewalk.

Basketball courts in the park,

handball games lasting until dark,

youth whirling in an energetic swirl,

running to catch the light,

running the bases in a game of

curbball, the northern summer light fading

slowly, until darkness called us home.


Or: the taste of Skittles,

fed to you by slim brown fingers,

perfume intoxicating, her presence

near you addling your mind,

as you walked in a neighborhood

not your own, away from school,

from parents, from all cares,

just the taste of the candy,

and soon the taste of her lips,

her tongue, first love,

unforgettable. An entire world

recreated, with the unhappy ending,

but happy all these years later.


Or: the smell of urine

as I descend into the A train station,

whisking myself away to the Village,

or Soho, or Washington Square,

away from what I knew

to places where I could see

my future; to bookstores,

the Main Branch, the original

Macy’s, a trip from home and hearth

to where I was my own master,

scouring the city, at one with it.


The triggers of memory which

when we are unaware carry us

to places we’d forgotten,

to times eaten up by the sands.

I remember that? That happened?

Is that how I felt?

Yes, yes, again yes to all those questions.

You may be more knowing,

but you know little more than you

knew then, when every day

taught you something, opening the world

to you, and life, terrible life,

struck you with God’s awe.


Every memory an inward yelp

of joy that time is not past,

but ever present, the foundation

of anything worthy.

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3 thoughts on “Petite madeleines

  1. Thank you so much for writing this poem. Your poem triggered so many memories for me. I had to take the A train every day when I lived in Brooklyn and went to college and worked in New York City from 1975 to 1986.

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