Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I was on the girls' basketball team all four years of high school, but the first two years never left the bench. Our coach turned over to me record-keeping of turovers, fouls, and all details of opposing teams. I was good at it. That was 35 years ago. Now, as I post resurrected old family photos online, I've been fleshing out families and residences in one branch of my ancestry. I keep typing the names of numerous small towns scattered along the Red River Valley -- Petrolia, Windthorst, Krum, Slidell, Terrell, Muenster, Ringgold. And for every place name, my memory supplies the color of their team uniforms, the animal mascot they claimed, even the look of all those old wooden gymnasiums. This is not information I'll ever use, and it won't illuminate memoir or the character sharing I am doing daily with Margot.

Except to remind me I am a child of the Cross-Timbers, of a particular place and time whose meaning may now exist only to me.

Mama told me when she was a child, she read a book called The Blue Bird of Happiness whose plot revolved around the idea that those who have passed on live in a frozen, static paradise most of the time. But duing the moments someone still alive remembers them, they are able to spring into warm-fleshed frenzied activity, able to move and talk as long as they are being thought about. She said even after she found out it wasn't true, she kept pushing herself to remember whose who have gone on, because in fact that is the only immortality they'll ever have.

I think she handed that compulsion right into my desperate hands.

This photo of her is from December 1964 in Dilley, taken with a Polaroid and somewhat the worse for that film's deterioration. She was sitting with her sister, my Aunt Sarah, talking about they parents they didn't get to have growing up, sharing bits of memory. I know well that sad look on her face. Behind her, to the left, is a fold-down desk in the built-in next to the fireplace. It was at that desk, that year, sitting on the arm of the chair she is in, that I wrote my first poem.


C. Diva said...

ya misspelled "colors" in the header.
I'm sure it was compleatly unconscious.

Maggie Jochild said...

Well, actually, the British Invasion which has taken place in Maggieland is completely conscious, and I'm honoured to be o'ertaken.

Margot said...

I can really see the resemblance between you, here.

Those technicolor memories may never come to the fore, but like background knowledge, they inform and colour everything you write.