“I Remember” exercise

A writing exercise from free-write to poem over at the fantastic Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. Check it out!

7 minutes free write associated with “I Remember..” turned into poetry:

I remember red, red like Barbie’s

high heel we always lost, my sister

gently taking the blame when I

was the one who had thrown it.

Colors.

Brown–like the mahoganey pews my mother

waxed, up and down the aisles I’d follow behind

with the sloshing golden Pinesol.  Golds-

the colors of my first years in the early eighties

in a house with a woman chain smoking Dorals

and drinking pots of black coffee. Tired and angry

and alone. The orange and brown carpet

squares in our chilly living room, noise

from the highway beyond our backyard; my

torn hand-me-down overalls,

a strawberry shortcake pajama shirt.

I remember metal fences and wire, metalic

on my tongue, smearing sticky hands

on my brown corduroys. Kool Aid

and macaroni smudge on my fat cheeks;

the taste of purple–weeds that is, chewing

on the bitter shoots that I had to spit out

usually on the way to the baseball games

you could hear the bat’s crack from the trail

deep in the pines outside of our little town,

suffocating in the scent of milkweed, thistle

prickling to my legs. The smooth sound of

the white rubber tires of the stroller over the

path, carrying my sister–the redhead

that wanted the red shoes.

I remember my stepfather coming in shortly

after those times, that freshness going stale,

his presence that of a stone wall,

master of the house, and our tiptoeing

and whispering never quite quiet enough.

Purple and brown, the hue of bruises.

Rocking in his stained recliner to The Oakridge Boys

as we grew and grew into hiding.

I remember the dirt road to my father’s

farmhouse, the electric emeralds of summer

crowding the ditches, and, in winter, the brown

bones of weeds and dead trees sharp

against the cold gray sky. Smoke coming from

the chimney like a paused cloud as we pulled into

the driveway in the Dodge Monaco, and then

warmth

on our tricycles over the hills in the linoleum

room to room, laughing.

Grandpa Leo, or “Pa”, in his black

leather chair, drinking an Old Style. My

father across from him, drinking too. Dirty cousins

visiting the hamper of a house;

welfare, food stamps, cloth diapers, beer, powdered milk and noodles

and how we loved it there.  And then

only weekends with him, and then

not at all.

I think of how my father had pushed me

on the swing under the crab apple tree, and how

I wished I had known how to say the words

Save us.

17 thoughts on ““I Remember” exercise

  1. What vivid and heart breaking portrait of a childhood. The wall of the stepfather, the hamper of a house. The drowning can’t even save themselves, let alone the innocent. This is just so, so well done.

    coal (Fireblossom)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this bittersweet walk into a childhood,. somehow I feel that it’s only afterwards we realize the blind-alleys it was… the mix of sweetness and poverty. Somehow this reminds me of something in Swedish we call Dandelion child, something that really means those children who manage well despite a difficult upbringing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is just terrific, Amy Jo, the flow through the colors and memories, and scenes and pleas–you work a huge amount into a short space, vividly distilled and compressed, but spreading about before our eyes as we read. Really well done. Take care and thanks. k.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Amy — your freewrite here offers a realism that is hallucinogenic, a memory so specific it nails the past to the present. I hope it is a gift these days. So good to read you again, thanks for coming round the Real Toads lilypad, keep coming back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brendan. And thank you. It is a wonderful thing these days. To write about things that do not hurt anymore. I have perspective. I’m doing so well it’s scary lol. I’m finishing college for creative writing and at the tech school to finish my occupational therapy license because I want to do a program here with this place called New Horizons that helped me out a lot. I want to do a trauma writing therapy for people with ptsd and trauma. It’s in the making!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s great, Amy, really great. As a wounded healer you have to much to give. Like Jung said, the artist dives where the madman drowns. It’s something that is teachable, don’t you think?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The blur of a upside rainbow-the rain all around-yet you vividly found a way to capture the beauty of some of the facets~ Bravo, great writing!

    Like

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