When I first started to realize that the putting together of so many jumbled thoughts and memories about childhood were forming themselves into a story, random moments and episodes from those days starting coming more and more easily and unexpectedly to mind.
Sometimes the recalling of those moments involved not only just “seeing” the memory, but also reaching back and “feeling” it as well. For example, during a quick, twilight stop just across the street from the Mission Hill Church in Roxbury MA a few years ago to grab a quick cup of coffee, I experienced such a sudden experience of “seeing and feeling” myself as a kid near that very spot, so many, many years before.
I hadn’t been on Mission Hill at that point in at least 15 years, but that random memory popped in my head and stayed with me as I drove all the way home to Tyngsboro, an hour north. It stayed stuck there until I got it out and into a poem that I wrote in two parts. The first is here, and serves as the front bookend to the memoir, and Part II as the back. I decided to share them with readers as a sort of wrapping around the story.
HARD TO SAY WHY ON MISSION HILL PART I
I can never explain it any better than to say they rushed over me once again,
As I poured myself out along with the light, from the warmth of the coffee shop into the night
Unexpected, like always, yes, those certain sad, but somehow hoped for feelings
That come with some familiar flash of “ah yes,” that helps to remind me why they came
Maybe this time it was my cheeks, that turned now cold and tight, that brought
Me back now to 1967, where I ran running, lightheaded, under a late November sky
With fingers crossed and frozen, numb, in a pair of wet and crusted snowy brown mittens,
That rubbed the tip of my runny nose red and raw, as I hurried home thinking up lies
Or, maybe it was because my eyes, squinting at the dimming daylight nuzzling up
Against the soft blue glowing from the edge of the buzzing neon cup,
Were now gazing out of my window in the projects, at a brilliant but long lost moon,
As it shot scattered beams across those distant treetops, that were level with my room
This time the tune my mind minstrels had decided to play, struck just the particular chords meant
To send me rushing home, back when my head was full and fearful, to a dirty kitchen in Roxbury
Where I saw myself eating, nose filled with the stench of scorched slabs of curled spam,
With a blank stare as a cockroach walked across my plate, as if in no hurry, as I ate
Heading to my car, I gulped walnuts of the early winter’s icy air, and blinked with watery eyes,
And wondered yet again how certain chilly windy dusks on a Boston day can so flood my senses,
And push deep into my heart those echoing achy pangs that make me ten, again
More to follow…..