Memory: Peg Bresnahan’s poem about the things that really matter in life…

Think now — before you read this poem — about a trip you took to an exotic place. What is your most striking memory? Odds are it’s a surprising moment. I remember singing and dancing to Jingle Bells in the beautiful park in Beijing with retirees gathered to play music, traditional instruments including a giant snakeskin drum. I remember the bartender’s contagious laughter in London when I realized — too late! — that hard cider would get me so much drunker than beer ever had. Forget the snapshots, forget the itinerary, forget the artifacts in the museum — maybe you haven’t, but for the most part, I have. What sparks stand out in your memory?

Now read the poem — and write your own about that moment, which is where we live (and write) with our greatest insights!

In a Country None of Us Called Home
by Peg Bresnahan

I don’t remember what city
we were in. Barbara and I ate
something in a restaurant
I can’t name, sat at a table
near two women we’d never met,
then saw again later
at a play I don’t recall.
I’m uncertain how it happened
we left the crowded theatre
beside them, the four of us bunched
on a corner fanning for a cab.

Then the one in a striped dress
put two fingers into her mouth
and shrilled a piercer, the kind
that cuts street lamps in two.
It turned out we wanted
the same hotel and shared the ride.
Barbara asked her to teach us
how to whistle. Knee to knee,
the way you sometimes wish everyone
in the world could sit, our mouths
wide open, we laughed like old friends,
chins and fingers wet with spit.

“In a Country None of Us Called Home” by Peg Bresnahan from In a Country None of Us Called Home. © Press 53, 2014.

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