A reflection on memory, inspired by a poem by our incoming Poet Laureate, W. S. Merwin. The poem is called A Likeness, and I heard it this morning on NPR's Fresh Air. Click the link, read the poem.
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I have only what I remember, Take One: The only things that last are the fleeting memories I manage to hang on to. Everything passes, and quickly. Nothing gold can stay. Love, people, things, books, the best meal I ever enjoyed: all of these are mere puffs of air, ghosts that vanish when I try to look at them. I cannot catch them, cannot hold them, cannot keep them. Memories are the only things I am left with, and these are themselves fleeting, capricious, unreliable.
I have only what I remember, Take Two: Everything I have is captured in a memory: the muscle memory of our first embrace, of the first time I held my first born child, of watching five children play soccer in the evening light. All of the important joys and tears of my life, the ones that define me, are here, inside me, carried in my heart and my mind, and no one, nothing can ever take them from me. Everything I have of any value will always be with me, cannot be damaged, cannot be lost, cannot be diminished.
Everything I have is what I remember.
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