It is a funny thing when you imagine yourself returning into the past with the
contraband of the present.
Daughter says its Honeysuckle.
Mother says no Columbine
red orange earlobes
petals on green lace
Daughter says her father dead
many years ago told her
it was honeysuckle
although now, thinking, she says maybe
he had showed her Honeysuckle next
to Columbine and
Mother, because we forgive the dead
almost everything, infact rewrite
our entire history with them
so that it softens like an old scab in salt water
the fact of their death and softens
too the fact of us still alive
to see this sunlit June day
mirror sea all around
Mother says perhaps it is
even though she knows
quite definitely otherwise
because one memory ago
he waded Rush Creek to pick Columbine
the Colorado State Flower
illegally for her after they had made love
he on top with his feet in the creek
she on the mud of mossy bank
before everything else happened.
This poem plays on the conflation of memory with desire. We remember what we want to remember and in the way that we want to remember it, which may change over time and experience. Our desire to believe our personal memory infallible brings conundrum after conundrum. In Greek mythology, the daughters of Mnemosyne (Memory) are the Nine Muses who inspire all poetry and art. Often forgotten (no pun intended) is Lesmosyne, the Goddess of Forgetting who sits in the shadows waiting to be called or not called.
Cary Waterman is the author of When I Looked Back You Were Gone (Holy Cow! Press), The Salamander Migration (University of Pittsburg), First Thaw (Minnesota Writers Publishing House), and Dark Lights the Tigers Tail (Scopecraft Press). She co-edited the anthology, Minnesota Writes: Poetry (Milkweed Editions). Her own poems have appeared in the anthologies, A Geography of Poets, Woman Poet:The Midwest, The Logan House Anthology of 21st Century American Poetry and Poets Against the War. She has poems forthcoming in The Blue Earth Review, The Great River Review, Cutthroat, and The Minnesota Womens Poetry Anthology. She has spent time at the MacDowell Colony and at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. Her writing awards include Bush Foundation Fellowships, Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowships, and the Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction in Poetry. She teaches at Augsburg College and at Normandale Community College.