What’s so miraculous about memories is how we can return to our past in an instant. In seedling, we walk with Alana Saltzback into childhood – to the forts and playgrounds, families and friends, the old neighbourhood, shared grief over the death of a childhood friend. Her poems capture the nostalgia, grief, and emotion of loss.
But as Saltz points out in “Just Visiting,” the temptation is to linger too long in the past, remembering it differently from how it really was. We can’t possibly remember everything; maybe just what we choose to remember.
The trouble is confusion.
I’m always waiting to stay.
This mouthful of years tastes
So if our memories are selective, and somewhat inaccurate, how do we keep those we loved with us after they’re gone? As Saltz describes, we visit places we were together, we mourn with others who knew them, honouring the people who shaped us and the experiences we shared. The things we did; the things not done. In that way, we acknowledge how those we grieve remain a fundamental part of us, how knowing them shaped us, why revisiting that past is most precious to our present.
In “You Weren’t There,” Saltz recounts a conversation with the mother of the late friend.
Why are you here? she asks.
Why are you here for us?
I’m seven years old again, but smaller.
I look like a painted egg.
I don’t know, I say. I just care.
I always will.