Measuring Life with a Memory
July 3, 2012
I keep it locked deep in a vault somewhere in the center of my brain.
It’s tattered and old, encrusted with dust, but it shines in the dark like a watch of gold.
It’s full of spring breezes and sunshine on leaves, it whispers of creeks and rivers that shine and sing.
It wanders in and out as it pleases, and sits by the fireside at night, or it croons on the edges of dream when the moon is full and bright.
It rises unbidden in solitary times, or stretches its arms each morning as it waits for my call.
It’s always there in the shadows like my old tabby cat, just purring and preening as it waits for its meal.
It walks with me in the dawning of each precious day, cavorting and gamboling all along the way.
It comes at my summons from out of its cave, and licks my face and my hands.
It’s filled with kindness and rapture like a gift sent from afar, full of sweetness and love and the caress of a mother’s arms.
You can hold it in your hand or roll it like a ball. It never goes far and always returns.
It’s here in the hills that are always in green, and down at the pond with its silvery sheen.
I see it in sunsets and glorious dawns, and it twinkles at night like the stars in the sky.
I feel it on cold mornings when I’m out in the wind, and hear it murmur in grasshopper grasses when the sun is on high.
I see it in store windows and in cars passing by, and it waves to me when I meet strangers or they pass me by.
It tugs at my heart like the tide of the ocean, and rolls back out to sea as sailors sail by. It’s there in every hello and whenever there’s a goodbye.
It’s on hilltops and mountains and icy spring streams, like the air I breathe and the sigh I sigh. It’s the spatter and patter of sidewalk rain and the splash of a rainbow trout that shatters the mirror of a mountain lake.
I keep it and stroke it with a most gentle hand, for it’s precious and warm like diamonds strewn along a beach’s Sandy strand.
It takes me back to where I was born, and to places far and wide. It’s like a time machine that knows not the equations of distance or eons.
It’s what keeps me young now that I’m old. It nestles in fog or rustles like leaves in the fall. It’s deep and abiding like a childhood hymn and remembers all the words that ever were spoken.
That is my memory and it’s composed of just one thing. It’s home and family and a burning candle in the window. It’s faraway and yet close, like the touch of a child; it’s silent or noisy as households often are.
It’s a memory of a home.
A home that once was, and always is.
A home in the green hills of my private Eden.
Pulitzer Prize Nominee Jory Sherman is author of Hills of Eden.