Poetry 10, 2014

after Joe Brainerd

I remember sleeping in a bedroom I shared with my little sister and little brother.

I remember missing a friend’s birthday party because my family went out hiking and we all completely forgot about the party, or that I had been invited, or that I had said I was going.

I remember my parents telling me stories of when I was too young to remember so many times that it seems like I actually remember.

I remember My Little Ponys and Pogs and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

I remember the first time I ever saw an anime and knowing that’s what it was. I was flipping channels and something made me go back to watch a man with long flowing brown hair talk to the stars inside an old church building; his name was Nephrite.

I remember staying up long after my friends sleeping over had fallen asleep to watch Return from Witch Mountain, which was the sequel to my favorite movie.

I remember fighting with a girl in fourth grade who later became a close friend.

I remember losing touch with my best friend and then resenting her when she sent me a long email explaining why she had resented me the entire time we’d grown apart.

I remember wanting my writing to be so perfect that I physically couldn’t write anything down because I was afraid it wouldn’t be good enough.

I remember being raped. I refused to talk about it for a long time. I refused to admit that’s what had happened for a long time.

I remember lying on the sofa with my brother and sister laughing hysterically because we were trying unsuccessfully to play Super Mario World upside down.

I remember singing a duet with my sister at my brother’s wedding.

I remember having a root canal and then being surprised that it wasn’t actually as bad as everyone had made it seem.

I remember the day I got into college. I tossed the acceptance letter into the trash because it wasn’t for the school I was hoping to attend.

I remember moving to New York City and falling in love with the subway.

I remember being pulled out of the top bunk during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. I probably would’ve slept through it if she hadn’t been so frightened.

I remember thinking that the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11 were a joke because the deejays on KROQ were playing ridiculous music behind their nonchalant coverage of it.

I remember telling my cohort that I didn’t know a poem I was supposed to recite except as a song, and then I sang it for them.

I remember losing my first real job after the financial crisis affected the non-profit organization where I worked; brokers and bankers were jumping out of thirtieth-story windows.

I remember being the one to say what everyone was thinking and getting punished for it.

I remember living dangerously and surviving.

I remember watching my family members opening the presents on Christmas Day that I had carefully chosen for them.

I remember Barbies from the 1950s and macaroni and cheese and my mother being tired when she got home from work but making us dinner anyway.

I remember the first time I thought I was actually worth something.

Prompt: Listen to an excerpt of Joe Brainerd’s “Remember”. Write your own version. NaPoWriMo

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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