By: Ute Carson
My book of life is wedged between bookends.
I search for mories I want to keep.
There is a chapter on my beginnings,
several about my middle years,
and one, in progress, anticipating the end.
A few are marked “special,”
many are dog-eared,
Some are written in indelible ink,
many dashed off in pencil.
A few pages are blank.
I leaf through the stories,
slow down here and there to reread.
On the whole though, how colorful the script,
how pregnant with meaning the manuscript
from one end to the other
as years rise from the pages.
Autumn and Old Age
Autumn and old age both teach of letting go.
Glowing Indians summers
and rich harvests usher in closure as nature wanes.
Grandchildren no longer whisper secrets in my ears,
and my aging body yearns in vain for praise.
But there is a melancholy pleasure
as leaves burst with color
and flashbacks rich in recollection flit by.
Lullabies and bedtime stories
echo through my dreams
and I quaver with joy
recalling bygone evenings
when snuggling was a childhood ritual.
My deep wrinkles tell many happy tales,
and my carved walking stick
lets me wander once more into a meadow
where I behold spring’s eternal recurrence.
The spidery rope of memory, long and durable,
connects the accumulated affections of a lifetime
from generation to generation.
Old Age, A Privilege?
Many yearn to reach fourscore
but not all are granted the privilege.
Others, burdened by the will of fate,
would rather shake the yoke of years.
Yet, some are destined to be
the good Samaritans of age,
reaching out, helping, consoling.
There is another beneficial calling,
when the old become storytellers.
They morph into magicians
who keep the past alive.
With the miraculous wand of memory
they conjure bygone experiences
and—abracadabra–former events return
as stories clad in multicolored dream-cloaks.
“Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.”
“Oh, my dear, that was so long ago,” Aunt Frieda sighs.
“How could I possibly remember that day in December?”
Why, then, do I recall the day so vividly?
The snow was piled high on the slanted roof.
I stood on a wooden bench
blowing peepholes onto the frosted windowpane
and spying a winter wonderland.
“You have a good memory, child.
You should write things down before the traces are lost.”
A good memory is a special gift. It reels in the past.
And more than personal memories are stored there.
Words “written down”—pen to notebook,
chisel to stone, pigment to canvas—
are retained in the nooks of our brain
but also in the big book of human history.
A writer from youth and an M.A. graduate in comparative literature from the University of Rochester, German-born Ute Carson published her first prose piece in 1977. Colt Tailing, a 2004 novel, was a finalist for the Peter Taylor Book Award. Carson’s story “The Fall” won Outrider Press’s Grand Prize and appeared in its short story and poetry anthology A Walk through My Garden, 2007. Her second novel In Transit was published in 2008. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines in the US and abroad. Carson’s poetry was featured on the televised Spoken Word Showcase 2009, 2010, 2011, Channel Austin. A poetry collection Just a Few Feathers was published in 2011. The poem “A Tangled Nest of Moments” placed second in the Eleventh International Poetry Competition 2012. Her chapbook Folding Washing was published in 2013 and her collection of poems My Gift to Life was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Award Prize. Save the Last Kiss, a novella, was published in 2016. Her poetry collection Reflections was out in 2018. She received the Ovidiu-Bektore Literary Award 2018 from the Anticus Mulicultural Association in Constanta, Romania. In 2018 she was nominated a second time for the Pushcart Award Prize by the PlainView Press and a third time by the Yellow Arrow Press in 2021. Gypsy Spirit was published in 2020 as was her essay Even A Gloved Touch. Her Chapbook Listen was published in 2021. Ute Carson resides in Austin, Texas with her husband.