Poetry Remembering the Passion of Childhood

Red Rover
by Connie Wanek

What courage we had,
our infantry stretched across the yard,
no shields, no swords,
no cavalry assembled behind us
calming their nervous mounts.
We had the strength of our arms,
the speed of our legs.
We had our friends and our convictions.
Opposite us, the undulating line
of children drew suddenly straight.
It was early on a summer day
but the larks fell silent.
A high voice
invoked the name Red Rover;
we could not say who said it first.
But righteousness passed through us
like current through a wire.
Or like an inaugural sip of wine
burning in our chests,
something father gave us
over our mother’s earnest
protestations.

“Red Rover” by Connie Wanek, from Hartley Field. © Holy Cow! Press, 2002.

My Bright Aluminum Tumblers

by Michael Ryan

Who are you
long legged
woman in my dream
kissing me open mouthed
pressing me for ice
we fetch together naked
from the freezer
with bright aluminum tumblers
red deep blue purple
icy water
so cold it hurts
lips and teeth and membrane
lacy lattices of ice
shattering on our tongues
who are you
how could I have forgotten
my bright aluminum tumblers
I had to hold with both hands
they couldn’t be broken
even if I dropped them
that’s how little I was

Copyright © 2013 by Michael Ryan.

Sources: The Writer’s Almanac, Academy of American Poets

Whether we’re writing memoirs, fiction or poetry about our lives, these poems show us two approaches to making those memories truly live! The first is an adult memory of a childish game, nonetheless absolutely clear about the lived experience of being a child playing. The second is a poem about an erotic dream by an adult, a dream in which the memory of those aluminum tumblers of his childhood play a central role. In the end, these poems are about the power of memory and the great and miraculous possibility of surprise that is the gift of writing.

About his poem, Michael Ryan wrote: “”Aluminum tumblers–neon-bright, slippery, colder than the liquid inside them–were my first drinking glasses after sippy cups. They were like holding freezing electricity in your hands. Why did they surface fifty-something years later in this erotic dream? The poem doesn’t know, and neither do I, but that is why it’s unpunctuated, which my poems almost never are.”

In your own writing, remember to let the memory and experience rise fully in your being, and then let the form of your writing and the play of your language be shaped by that primal force, that gift of remembering, from the place you live now.

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