A History of Remembering

by a contributor

Ariana Nadia Nash

A lonely woman loved a wall, and the bricks left her lips bleeding.

The tortured man traveled for days with burnt skin along a river, slipping along the soft mud banks, scanning the trees for snakes, finally escaping.

A family became a forest.

A silk-skinned woman loved a silk-skinned man but he slipped through her fingers.

A husband, hoping to atone, kept asking his wife if she wanted more logs for the fire.

Childhood friends raced up oak trees to stare over the canopy at the height of the blazing world.

A stone-faced father sat very still and became a boulder.

The friends grew apart, and lived always half-forgetting the other.

A lonely woman loved a spoon, until she broke it rapping her knuckles.

A family became a lit match in the forest they had been.

A boulder realized he was alone and slowly crumbled.

A dying mother cried across continents and so a son came to pray over her body before it burned.

Learning that her skin was like the ocean, the silk-skinned woman rocked herself to sleep.

A child thought that some days the sun left the sky but no one would tell her where it went.

Covering herself in velvet cloth and velvet night, the widow climbed the trellis to her roof where she stood for years with her toes at the eave.

A silk-skinned woman painted her body—one creature for every man she’d loved, and a dragon at her back for her father.

A family became a gondola and the singer in that gondola, poling the water at sunrise.

A widow rose like smoke into the forgiving night after waiting cloaked so long on her roof.

A man three times divorced wrote about roses.

A family became a fish.

By chance the friends one day met and remembered the other again, and placed that sadness with the others they had bound in leather and collected on shelves, and took down some days to read.

A child thought that some days the sun left the sky and so she left the earth to find where the sun went when it left the sky.

He thought he had escaped, but the tortured man never forgot the sound of his own overgrown nails on metal.

A family became a fisherman that caught the fish they used to be.

A lonely woman loved a window and built a seat so she could sit forever and stare through the eyes of her beloved.

Ariana Nadia Nash is the winner of the 2011 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry for her first book Instructions for Preparing Your Skin. Her chapbook, Our Blood Is Singing, is forthcoming from Damask Press. She is the recipient of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize and a MacDowell Colony residency. Her work can be found in Rock & SlingMain Street Rag, and The Mom Egg, among other journals.

See also: Ariana’s prose poem Presentiment and her list of 5 Things You Should Read in our ongoing contributors’ series.