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for the ‘memory’ Category

July 13, 2010

words and their failures

I am thinking now of the summer years ago when I taught expository writing to a group of 13-14 year olds, about twenty of them. We met every morning for three hours, much too long an interval for them. I broke up the time halfway through by playing a game of ping pong with each of them. Because I’m such a lousy player, this took only 20 minutes.

That day I had given them something very hard and brutal and self-absorbed to read, Joan Didion, I think, and asked them to write their thoughts about it.

One boy, the Korean boy who had taught me to write my name in Kanji, wrote a remarkable thing.

Read more …

May 12, 2009

snapshot

I’m waiting for a letter that never comes. I think about how in my mother’s childhood, the mail came twice a day. A doubling of both possibility and longing. I’m waiting for something that might be, or something will never come to pass. I’m on the porch of a graceful house. There is a sofa, it is my waiting seat. I sit here in the waning hours of an afternoon, feet up on the railing, shoulders sunk deep into the pillowy back of the couch. Watching the hours and the people pass, waiting, waiting for what comes next, waiting for the mailman, who always comes. He wears government-issue Bermuda shorts and pink plastic mirrored sunglasses. He is cheerful and repentant for a hard-lived life, the effects of which are etched into the pockmarks on his cheeks.

He had a name but it has been forgotten, along with the sender of the letter that never arrived.