Old loves and new memories.

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I have been dreaming a lot of an old love of mine. I did not know at the time that lovers remained in your dreamworld, years after you stopped holding their hand. The dreams are peaceful, glowing. Sweet the remnants of what was so hard to walk away from, years ago. I have been thinking-debating, discussing, agonizing- about the notion of what loves stay with us, and which ones fade away, like sugar. I had been aching knowing that the pain we feel passes away, and love can be found again, and no feeling is permanent. It makes the mourning useless, and the fear useless, for if we can stop crying over death, we can stop crying over life. And then, as poetry does, today this poem came to me. I was sailing around online, discovering a new voice courtesy of my lovely Rewa, and found this. This is what I have been dreaming of this week. Small miracles.


Washing the Elephant

by Barbara Ras
March 15, 2010 .

Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash

the elephant, begging the body to do it

with soap and water, a ladder, hands,

in tree shade big enough for the vast savannas

of your sadness, the strangler fig of your guilt,

the cratered full moon’s light fuelling

the windy spooling memory of elephant?

What if Father Quinn had said, “Of course you’ll recognize

your parents in Heaven,” instead of

“Being one with God will make your mother and father

pointless.” That was back when I was young enough

to love them absolutely though still fear for their place

in Heaven, imagining their souls like sponges full

of something resembling street water after rain.

Still my mother sent me every Saturday to confess,

to wring the sins out of my small baffled soul, and I made up lies

about lying, disobeying, chewing gum in church, to offer them

as carefully as I handed over the knotted handkerchief of coins

to the grocer when my mother sent me for a loaf of Wonder,

Land of Lakes, and two Camels.

If guilt is the damage of childhood, then eros is the fall of adolescence.

Or the fall begins there, and never ends, desire after desire parading

through a lifetime like the Ringling Brothers elephants

made to walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel

and down Thirty-fourth Street to the Garden.

So much of our desire like their bulky, shadowy walking

after midnight, exiled from the wild and destined

for a circus with its tawdry gaudiness, its unspoken

pathos.

It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,

the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—

the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,

unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things

like popsicles unthinkingly.

And though dailiness may have no place

for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines

and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder

to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life

will appear in a dream, arriving

with the weight and certitude of an elephant,

and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash

the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories

that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.

The part where she talks about it taking half a century is what I have been wondering myself.

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