All Memory is a Lie
by Florence Weinberger
I knew, when I was two,
the woman I followed up the stairs on all fours
was my mother, and the child she carried my little sister.
My vocabulary too crude to describe her shoes.
Did they have laces, was she wearing hose?
No one tracked me to freeze that crabbed climb,
the way they posed me bare-assed
on fake leopard when I was five months old—
And the kitchen that we entered when we reached
the top (I don’t see my father)
has an ice box, and an iron tub she bathed me in.
There must have been an ironing board, a hot iron
carelessly left plugged in, a sink over which
she peeled potatoes, so she could wrap my burning fingers
with those cooling strips.
Why is it I remember my mother’s tears
when my sister speaks only of her laughter?
Maybe it’s because all the memories we carted
as we moved from house to house, from coast to coast,
the ones we kept in shards and flashes,
were always wrong and always vivid and seldom shared.
Maybe it’s because memory is all scars, and still alive.
* * * * *
"All Memory is a Lie" was first published in the Topanga Messenger.