For writers’ group this month we had ‘time capsule’ as our prompt and this got me looking around my office and thinking about what I would choose to put into one. In the end, I decided that I’d want to put in the one thing you can’t always hold onto – MEMORIES – but that can come back to you through a smell or an object that nudges you into remembering. Here’s the poem that came out of that:
You gave me this
When I was a child
Do you remember?
It was old even then,
Inside, it smelt of wedding cake and,
rusting at the edges,
its hinges whispered complaint.
I remember you rising from your chair
Slowly turning and easing
Your way over to the dresser
Where, opening a door, you bent low,
Lower than I imagined possible,
For a time you were frozen there
Only your fingers active, scrabbling around,
Hunting this treasure.
When you turned to face me,
there it was in all its green gold glory
clamped in your arthritic claw.
The girl’s hair flashed in the morning sun
And her new husband looked too young
For the man’s uniform he wore.
Over the years I filled it
With beetles and ladybirds who died,
Trumpton figures and Russian dolls,
I simply outgrew,
Painted pencils and guitar strings,
I neither flourished nor plucked,
Until ticket stubs and bookmarks collected,
From places that left their mark,
With faded postcards and scratchily written letters,
Some of them from you.
Now my time capsule looks empty
And sounds hollow
But placing it in your hands and seeing your smile,
I know it is more full than ever,
full of the lingering scent of cake,
and the memories, laughter and happiness.
All those things you seem to forget
until the next time I visit.
(c) Kathryn Eastman. July 2012.