"I remember" turned out to be the right container for specific memories: of geography, the west coast, a visitation; of intimacy; of 9/11--its impact on my neighborhood (not Ground Zero but nonetheless swamped with media and the bereaved for weeks). My mother died a month before and became part of my mythologizing and memory.
Everywhere Woman Is Born Free
I remember being an effervescent bubble;
the serendipity of air.
I remember past midnight when my spirit guides
left by the front door and a new set waited in
the living room. I lay on a double-bed mattress
on the tan carpet as my boyfriend mumbled;
palm trees pressed against windows to witness
I remember knowing all s’s I heard were angels
studying my name.
I remember California before it was razed,
and Pop telling God at a turnoff, You done good.
When Grandma died I remember Mom saying,
Aunt Alma’s in the white tunnel to meet her.
I remember the fairy book at the Annie Besant Center
and Arthur Conan Doyle’s charmed defense.
I remember knowing Mom accelerated her passage
to the other side so she could guide rattled souls
back here in New York. She helped passengers and
clerical workers to the white tunnel; served coffee
and cake until everyone saw they were not really hungry.
I remember begging Pop’s spirit to please leave already,
twelve years after his death. It was Goya’s drawings
at the Met.
I remember my purgatory years which I now know
were a beta test for a new way of salvation
for all mankind.
The Strangeness of Component Parts
I remember penises pressing into me. The strangeness
of component parts.
I remember my own breasts, which are pillowy and
a little uneven and how I envy any who rest on them.
I remember holding a mirror up to my nethers
and thinking, Huh.
Invasive Procedures of Love
I remember the piano player stroking my cheeks
over and over; putting fingers to my lips over
and over. I remember asking, What was that?
I remember he said, That was me falling in love
with you. I remember his canny squint.
There used to be a whore house here.
I remember I asked, Did you go? I remember
his chest moving quick as smoke exhaled when
two people are talking late into the night.
I remember feeling more narrow
than I’d like to admit, but not straight;
twisty, like the ends of a tightly packed joint.
I remember the invasive procedures of love.
I remember some invasions are good.
Carr Futures/Tower 1/WTC
I remember working one Wednesday
on the 92nd floor. The people were pleasant,
like they’d all make great neighbors.
I remember pangs in my stomach. An ulcer?
and asking a friend if I should see a doctor.
I’m going out on a limb here, Sarah,
but you gotta have some fun.
I remember my mom died a month earlier.
I remember Martha called to say she was
in Jersey and did I want to visit.
I remember being asked back to Carr Futures
after Martha and I made plans. I called
my friend on a limb. Should I turn down
work right now? I remember I went to Jersey.
It was a Thursday. I remember rolling down
grassy slopes with Martha’s grandkids.
I never went back to Carr Futures.
By 11 a.m. on Tuesday everyone was gone.
Everyone. Every employee of Carr Futures
who was there that day was gone.
Where were they? I remember the floor plan:
the oblong lobby, the maple reception area.
The offices beyond. I remember wondering
if any of the exits were contemplated.
I remember praying it all went fast.
I remember thinking, No one?
I remember thinking, So many in such a short time?
I remember thinking, They are shades. They are gone.
I remember thinking, Not one person made it out.
Poof. I remember, No one?
I remember the Armory across the street became the
first DNA collection center.
I remember my neighborhood a media event.
I remember streets blocked for two weeks.
Everything darker than a nightmare.
Candles, vigils, wax on sidewalks, shattered flames.
Flyers on every wall. Photographs of smiling people
with their hair well-groomed, missing.
I remember being interviewed: Do you want revenge?
I remember telling the people of France I wouldn’t
put anyone through this.
I remember hoping someone understood.
I remember there was no getting away from it.
The doors of my building opened to the funeral train.
I remember the line down the block and around
the corner. Loved ones waiting to register.
I remember trying to give blood.
I remember being asked to hand out fliers.
I remember crying because I wanted everyone
to understand I cared as much as Jennifer Lopez.
I remember picking up the phone on a Sunday to a
whisky southern voice. Hel-looo, are you aware that
Hillary Clinton supports the Palestiiiineans?
Palestiiiineans? You learn your pronunciation from
Bush? Neu-ooo, do yeu-ooo? I remember explicatives.
I remember Hillary votes to keep the war going.
I remember being in the mud and very unhappy and
that I always remember that sorry four-year old me.
I remember making the same romantic mistake over
and over. I remember the surprise of repetition.
I remember a winter solstice on a Northwest beach,
with a group of women getting Shakespearean and
my only thought: This cold will never leave my feet.
Sarah Sarai. Published in The Future Is Happy. (See the "The Future Is Happy" tab above for more information.)