Where Have All the Greetings Gone? [Flash Fiction]

The past is not past. What does that mean? Of course, it is past, just as remembering the past is present. So, remembering the past is not past. Does this mean that what I remember is the past–I can only use the material of the past in memory and call it remembering, no? So then, what am I saying when the past is not past, to pass by, to go past, what then . . . where have all the Christmas cards gone? A question I could ask, but do not. It is a theme turned motif in my poetry: what I could do, but do not; should have, but did not; would do, but will not.

If I think closely, dearly, on images from my past (of?), I would see the wooden clothes rack that my mother used to hang the laundry in the kitchen by the back door of our ground-floor, East Flatbush apartment with the backyard that faced East-North East, mostly easterly, by how the sun would come through the window of the door as it peeked its head above the line of roofs along the backs of the houses on East 49th Street, as we lived on East 48th between Farragut Road and Foster Avenue.

The wooden clothes rack was coupled in the space between the refrigerator and the cabinet with the counter next to the sink where we also kept the corrugated tin washboard my mother used sometimes to hand wash our clothes in the kitchen sink, her knuckles then turning red, swollen and knotted.

Later in life, if I think really close, knowing her knuckles will have increased in size, I will see her hands bent and turned crimped into lobster claws. There was nothing really else to say . . .

I could have come to wonder about all the former friends for whom fond thoughts were firmly fixed each Christmastide, if I were to focus on this past, as opposed to another? How many does any one man have? Thinking of friends from then no longer now; nor even, from that time, close relatives all now lost, displaced from this place I keep–what is it that I do keep?

Fragments I try to collect. Recollection is an art? Shattered memory, more likely; the way we live. Life’s only lived–what I take’s been mis-taken. Memory is in the living; to live is to remember?

The past is not past, I do and do not understand.


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