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.