Garden and Nature in Words

Memories of Him

Picture of a man stuck on the other side

He killed ants on the hot bricks
one endless summer
little pieces of them
crushed and stretched
cooked under the sun
still twitching
and their smell
like spicy honey
was all over his hands
and the boy who did this
I don’t remember him

His DeSoto Deluxe
squeaked and rattled
going down that dirt road
on the way to get her
and he joked to her mother
that the car was as old as him
yet both loaded with charm
never sharing with her
how the windows always fogged up
at the drive-ins at night
just him and her daughter
with each other alone
climbing peaks unseen
dreams cascading like an avalanche
this young man
I don’t remember him

Technology advances one orphan at a time
so he said during Vietnam
with those government contracts
that kept his factories running overtime
to equip young men with killing tools
hot steel cut through jungle scrub
and the flesh and bone
of a people who toiled
against the sun and mud
watching their children’s bellies swell
a slow death under steel and fire
but his own love
taken so suddenly
his son born an angel
so fresh and greyish plump
that he could almost have been alive
if only he wished it hard enough
and that man who kissed his cold baby
for the first time
I don’t remember him

The world changed one day
became a carousel he couldn’t ride
a noisy blaring colour clash
left alone with dreams
of some place else
his angel waiting
on a tree branch strong and green
and he just as fixed
could see him waving
from far away
and this man that envisioned
blue sky against grey
I don’t remember him

Just a shell now
that spark inside
became root-bound
that last thin wisp
it disappeared
and empty eyes
they stare through these people
who make no sense when they talk
if just one could say that smell
something about a smell
a spicy smell
and ants
there was something about them
but I don’t remember

This was written in response to this weeks Writer’s Island Challenge – the word prompt was ‘Envision’.

32 thoughts on “Memories of Him

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  3. I am lost for words – to express my admiration for the way in which you wrote this piece. We do change as we age and I know I am not the thoughtless, selfish teenager I once was, nor am I the wife and mother of two little children, I have grown past being those people. It is such a pity that as we age things begin to blur and that last stanza says it so well… You are a really great writer, Shane!


  4. Hi Shane this was such an emotive & powerful piece to read. I’m assuming that this is written about someone you know … I think it is truly amazing that you have been able to connect & deliver his experience in such a personal, believable way. Well written & a wonderful read!


  5. its incredible to think that you can express life through the eyes of another so well, convincing the reader that you have walked in that persons shoes. the fact that it is fictional, in my opinion, makes it so much more compelling as a reader, because you can appreciate the skill involved in creating something that is not familiar to you. brilliant work. i love this.


  6. I recall a man I knew walking in parades looking at the audience and wondering who his parents might have been. Eventually he found them, but his dad had died two years prior. This reminds me of your story… you cannot remember. Very emotional and well written.


  7. Excellent writing, Shane. (I am glad I read your process notes as well.) You really drew me into it. You captured a life well. It rings true and leaves me wanting to know more.


  8. Wow! The spoke volumes to me, and rang with a true, clear note. Then I read the comments, and realised that it was not autobiographical, and my admiration rose several notches. You have really got into the spirit of this prompt, and I salute you.


    • Yes it is Brenda. I am 38 and have always had a fairly insulated life. Outside a coffee shop the other day, I saw a man in his mid-sixties, and someone that I know is a senior partner for a global consulting company. He would be considered a powerful man at his workplace. He was staring at a crowd of 20 somethings, all playing grown ups, and he had this look on his face like he knew there would soon come a time when they would replace him. I pictured him 10 years from now, what would have happened to him? This was his story, although he has nothing to do with the detail, as far as I can tell.


  9. I have just read this and then read it again. There was so much depth here that I had to let it seep in slowly, it couldn’t be rushed and it has left me feeling that I have so much to say but no words to say it. Wonderful writing.


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