“Do You Remember Where You Came From?”
—William Stafford, “Climbing Along the River”
Only fragments. Mud & creek beds:
at family reunions catching salamanders
in cups because I felt isolated from those
to whom I should be closest.
I have nothing in common with family,
nothing in common with my past.
I’m like a bluegill that can’t recall
it fell for the hook trick once.
Only a murky hint of steel jabs at me
from childhood. Only ghosts. Only
only. Did I have friends? Who’s to say?
Neither I nor they present the past
in a jewel case like a mixtape.
I came from music. I know that—
the sounds were where I hid
when voices of others grew too loud.
Only earworms—all of my youth I praise.
Only a kind of silence built from song.