Richard P J Lambert CC
Memories and Reveries
Memories of memories of memories
Fade back and back and back
I recall a moment
The sound of laughter on a Saturday morning
Seashore spray on a shore raised face
Winds swept across sand and shell
I am a reverie
I am the past
I am brighter days
Experiences fresh and new
When life was a bit more...
What are the words
The sounds I’m searching for?
How was it that my younger self felt?
What was that thought
That creative, chaotic, contemptuous thought
Lost to time’s eternal grind
In the back of my eighth-, tenth-, twelfth-grade mind?
I am the child
Peering around the corner in darkness after bedtime
I am the teenager
Yearning for the day I can drive away
I am the grounded
The disgruntled calendar counter
Ticking off days until graduation
My friends and I are bored again
I guess we’ll ride bikes in this well worn town
I guess we’ll jump fences and steal a few waves
I guess we’ll sit around after curfew
Long to X our eighteenth
What comes after that?
We just can’t wait to grow up
To be free
But will this growth bring wisdom?
Will we ever arrive?
Will we be too late?
Will the world give up the wait and close the gate?
Is it even possible to liberate?
Or will we just stagnate
Pay homage to nostalgia
And then to fate
Until the future is all used up
Until then and there merge to one
Until all that’s left is a setting sun
From the clutches of time we cannot run
We only have here
We only have now
But when is now?
Is it even real?
Is it something you can feel?
The past holds my memories
The future my reveries
But neither holds me
Neither holds we
Neither holds anything the eyes can see
We spend our days dreaming
We spend our days dwelling
We spend our lives locked in a loop
We can never be free
We can never be we
In a memory
Or a reverie
Until we set those dreams on fire
Let fate and nostalgia expire
And let the universe conspire
To bring us back
Back to a child like knowing
A sense of living and flowing
Upon a stream we are constantly going
And if we let those phantoms keep growing
We will have no seeds for sowing
No paddle for rowing
Or the path
Just victims of time’s wrath
So I say to myself
And to all who will listen
Let go of those ghosts
Let your present self shine
It’s not a perfect path but it’s undoubtedly mine
There are no better days
Not before and not then
We rise from where we are
From the blood and the dirt
And don’t expect to feel alive and yet be free from the hurt
Cast off your false pretenses
And your mental defenses
Life is only lived in present tenses.
I can’t deny that I take up space
And not a little bit
The footprint of my shadow can be
If I am presenting unconsciously
Like the shaded hues of an impending storm
From horizon to horizon
In all four directions
Clouds dampen every contour in sight
It is not that I intend to take this space
I do not demand it
I do not find myself incredulous at the presence of others
I balk at self-important men
Straight white men with mortgages and advanced degrees
Suits and suites at the Sheraton
And yet I take space still
Sometimes with words or mannerisms
Always by the weight of my born identity
People just believe me
Take me seriously
Offer me praise
Zero interest loans for which I did not apply
This is not because of who I am
It is because of what I am
I cannot deny what I am.
I cannot deny that this construction shapes the world around me.
I cannot deny that I rarely feel
At least not in ways that compromise my physical safety or my ability to pay rent
I cannot deny that I have used this privilege to my advantage.
I have hidden in the wide open spaces of my own shadow
I have relied upon this space to edge me into opportunities I didn’t deserve
I cannot deny that I have been fragile when these clouds have been peeled back to let in the light
The light of other people
People who I Love
People to whom I have professed unwavering solidarity and allyship
I have crumbled under my own weight
I have turned the grief of comrades, lovers, and friends into a story about me
A story about my inability to be an ally
I know this is because of my conditioning
As a settler
As a man
As a white guy
Tall and handsome
With good grades
I was born into the normative narrative
I am the unconscious violence of race and class
Gender and colonialism
This is what I am
The question of who I am can be a different story
If I am willing to make it so
And bring fire and fury
Light and space
Into this cloud covered world.
Learning to Cry
Hours and days and years have been spent accumulating certainty
The right words and arguments for things I know nothing about
Analyses of books I haven’t read
Definitive answers to questions upon which I have barely reflected
It’s important to be right
It’s important to know what you’re talking about
Well, it’s important that people think you know
That people think you’re right
That’s how you get praise
That’s how you get prestige
That’s how you rise to prideful pomp and prompt promotion
That’s how you reach perfection
That’s how you win
When I was 32, I learned how to cry
I learned how to fall apart
I learned how to grieve
I learned how to lie upon floors
Eyes pouring out decades of accumulated manhood and perfection
I learned it’s not important to know everything
It’s not important to pretend
It’s not important to be a man
Falling to pieces is the only way to be whole.
Matthew MacDermant is an editor and contributor for The Philadelphia Partisan. When he isn’t musing with pen and notebook in hand, he is working with the Student Conservation Association building trails, organizing political education and environmental justice events, or hiking in Philly and New Jersey area parks. He is currently researching and writing about the links between colonialism and climate disaster, and exploring identity, gender, ecology, and the embodied experience through short fiction and poetry. You can reach him at Matthew.MacDermant@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @QuillandNote.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.