The quirks of memory

Some of you might remember that, long ago and far away, I was a literature major once. Despite the fact that it seems altogether a different world, my love of the written word remains.

I may not have a favorite actor or actress, but I do have a favorite poem. It's not terribly well-known, unless you're familiar with twentieth-century American poets, but it's a piece that I have loved since I first read it. I know virtually nothing about the author, and have read nothing else of his. Sometimes I wonder if they live up to the high standard he set here:

Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's-float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

Philip Booth, "First Lesson"

I woke up with those words in my thoughts today. The quirks of memory—to not be able to remember what you ate for lunch yesterday but to be able to remember arcane arrangements of words…

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