A Nebulous Memory
There are moments in life we remember with pleasure,
like the birth of one’s son and the first taste of love,
or peripheral events like when the Arsenal won the Cup
or the time Steve Davis became snooker world champion,
but sometimes one wallows in sentimentality and forgets
the dark clouds that occasionally obscured his existence.
but he regrets that he didn’t keep any records of his deeds.
So his imagination roams as he attempts to go back in time
and to clear the mist that envelops his nebulous memory.
He can hear the shrill cry of a girl with pigtails cursing him:
“I hate you, I hate you”, as he viciously tugs her blond hair.
The playground incident makes him wonder whether
he was just being clumsy or developing a cruel streak.
It’s his earliest recollection and one that triggers others.
Faded faces of girls, whose names he’s forgotten, flash by;
had he been a libertine who callously took advantage
or a thoughtful partner who shared his love with them?
Knows that embittered females have made accusations
but recalls that he took a knock when a selfish woman
after getting the child she wanted, left him high and dry.
He reckons that life is driven by a range of emotions,
that love and hate are impulses that hold sway over us,
that accepting life’s ups and downs will show fortitude.
© Luigi Pagano 2017
Life’s a funny old thing. Has to be lived moving forward but only understood looking back . They say regret is futile and many people like to bolster up their mistskes by breaking into Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ I don’t . There are many things I regret and would do differently given a second chance but I guess as you say, accepting life’s ups and downs gives fortitude. It’s not what happens to us that matters so much as how we dealt with them. ‘Character forming’ experiences can bring out our inner steel and compassion or it can shrivel the… Read more »
I thoroughly agree with your premise, Alison, and accept that many would do things differently given a second chance.
As you rightly say, it’s not what happens to us that matters so much as how we dealt with them.
When a person reaches old age, one might like to draw a ‘balance sheet’ of his/her life and to see objectively whether it has been worthwhile. One, though, has to rely on memory which may be nebulous at times and certain episodes could appear rosier or gloomier than they actually were.
You made me reflect on my own life, Luigi. In fact, I could have written this poem. While reading it, I thougjt about the auld song from way back when… ‘To all the girls I’ve loved before’.
A very apt song title, Mick, to remind us of past events that have given us a lot of pleasure.
Thanks for the feedback.
So true, Luigi. With age comes wisdom (to most people anyway). Looking back over my life, I’m sure I’d do some things differently, but now all I can do is learn from mistakes made. Very thought provoking poem.
Hi Eira. With age comes maturity but whether wisdom comes with it is debatable but we have to keep an open mind and hope that it does.
The stuff of memories that make us cringe. Have you ever seen the film Dead Man Walking? So, so hard to watch the painful shame of one man facing, square on, his own misdeeds. His cruel, selfish indifference toward others parallels, in a sense, the content of much of your poem, for me. Though for your actor, his wrongs were mild by comparison. Effective, reflective and sobering. bel
Hi Bel, nice hearing from you. I haven’t seen the film you mention and can’t make comparison.
Yes, it’s true that some memories could make us cringe especially if we recollect obvious misdeeds. How much reliance can we place on our reminiscences when the brain fades with old age? Did what we remember amount to cruelty and selfishness? It is an undefinable conundrum.
Ionicus, don’t know whether you’ll be able to open these, but if you can you’ll be able to see that all sorts of associations come up for me when I read someone’s work! My reference was to a very extreme example of what your poem addresses. For me book, film and your poem ask us to consider the human conscience and how it unfolds during life events – or not. Know from my former work that in some it is somehow blunted, sometimes totally, but we don’t fully understand why. There’s new and recent evidence of underdevelopment/shrinking of the hippocampus… Read more »
Dear Bel, I don’t know where this comment had disappeared to but today it has resurfaced and I have been able to open and read the attachments with the interesting information about human emotions, depression and the moral questions with which we are constantly faced, Thanks for directing my attention to them.
Whatever happened to my additional comment? It LOOKS as if it should be here with the first line or so appearing – but it isn’t!! Did you remove it Luigi? If so, that’s perfectly okay. But it might have been some tech glitch, or mistake of mine in posting it.
Never found it, Bel. It looks as if the link didn’t work.