letters from the north

We remember ourselves


Archives break up intimacies of the afterlife like an icebreaker creates left and right. We are pieces, small pieces, rising with tide leaving our traces. Volcanoes today and forests tomorrow. Dusty-haired and dirty-jeaned from sludging through life's tauntings. And the archive waits for us, lid open.

The hands of our grandchildren close around us. It was difficult for our children to part with us. So they pawned us to those younger who could not visualize the times we lived in. We were their greatest generation who struggled more, who wisened to life earlier. Now they know good times and we get to know ourselves.

This box contains our passports, that one our sledge flags. Letters to our lady friends are separated from letters to our parents. Photos taken with brother and sister become mixed with photos of our first love. We always kept them detached by false walls. Now their only walls distance them from written words. Even in death we cannot remain whole.

In the attic, in the basement, in the warehouse and closet, we are kept. Pieces of ourselves all around, quiet or tempestuous, muffled by box lids and closed folders. We recollect when we were caught, lifted, turned, trampled, loved, thrown, silent, overjoyed. Finally the silence enables us to gaze at projections of ourselves. And those of others, we now see through the snowstorm, their joys and sorrows. We realize the texture of their chaotic emotions endured as much as ours. And all is kept warm by the fires of memory.