Someone recently posed the question "what's your first memory?" I actually wrote that into a poem a while back. Fortunately for all of us, I haven't yet written my second memory down in any form yet, and don't foresee doing it in the near future. But I will share the first with you now:
There was a beautiful red and black
oriental plate that was displayed
on a stand on the end table
next to the couch. I was three then,
and barely tall enough to rest my chin
on that table. I thought that plate
was the prettiest thing in the house,
and down on my level where I could
stare at it for hours. I remembered breaking it,
and all the yelling and meanness
that followed. It was an accident,
I was only looking at it! I’m sorry,
I’m sorry! But as I sat in my room
crying, the yelling grew and swelled
and exploded and Mommy left.
I remember thinking that the broken shards,
the little ones, stayed in the carpet
long afterwards. When I was sixteen,
my mother told me what a guilty
three-year-old mind, desperately looking
for peace and love, could not remember.
She says my dad got mad at her
and threw that plate against the wall,
shattering it, and beginning the yelling
and the meanness. I still think it was me.
I still blame myself for crying
in my room, instead of picking up
the broken pieces.