Where Was I Then?

I picture myself taking long walks,
working in the garden, writing,
teaching myself the guitar,
learning another language,
rolling tobacco and conversing
with spiders in a mountain cabin,
singing, laughing, visiting the old haunts.

My mother pictures me walking
into the room with a book or a cup of tea.

She pictures herself as a girl on roller skates,
or playing cards with her friends
on the neighbor�s slanting cellar door �
until the images die, or are crowded out
by other images, some of which arise
from a composite neverland of memories
and dreams.

She wonders how I have come to know so much
about her, about her childhood, about her school days,
about the early years of her married life.

She asks if I am the same age as one of her sisters,
or if I lived on the same street she did
when she was growing up.

When I recount episodes from our family�s past,
she sometimes asks, �Where was I then?�

Every day, she loses things � letters, old snapshots,
her glasses, scissors, jewelry, the family bible.

Her mind.

Every day, I find them tucked away in odd places,
sometimes partly hidden, sometimes wrapped
or tied in material she had at hand.

Her tangled thoughts.

Often, they are in plain view and she simply doesn�t see them.

And when I show her where they are,
it is like giving her something she already has
but which can never be returned.

June 13, 2006

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