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Memory's Landscape

the memory
that cuts at the heart like hawks
seen far away and whirling.

Dave Smith, from “Starlight, Starbright,” Homage to Edgar Allan Poe (Louisiana State University Press, 1981)



 And yet, there’s a longing that has no voice and wants one, that fears it will die of itself.

Mark Strand, from “The Monument,” New and Selected Poems. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)

Photographer, title, and date not given

Photographer, title, and date not given

(via spells-of-life)

And so I understand, at least for a moment,
how something and nothing can sometimes be reversed,
as I understand nothing: The black in a crow’s wing
works like my own deepest sleep when I wake
beyond mere self, that black like the waves
lifting their shoulders in a sudden swell of memory
or list a sudden swell. If everything we needed
were real, those delicate yellow-bellied birds
might fly through this thicket without brushing anything
and I might come home to a house full of absence
and meet all the people I’ve loved, sitting there
in the bodies they had then, but is stuffed now with straw,
propped up and grinning. As my body too
is stuffed with dry grass, which pokes through my clothes.
I was hungry and you fed me—just enough to survive
until I was only what I am now, disappeared
into the music behind all this sound,
as the trees are connected to the trees of their past
through roots and branches and leaves—without thinking
anything we’d ever recognize as thinking,
anything we’d recognize: a place beyond this air.

Michael Hettich, “The Measured Breathing,” Systems of Vanishing (University of Tampa Press, 2014)

And I wondered if a memory is something you have or something you’ve lost.

Marion, from the film Another Woman, written & directed by Woody Allen (Orion Pictures, 1988)

(via cwmy)



Memory’s placed its hand so on Time’s face, touched it
so caressingly that although it’s still our
parting’s morning, it’s as if night’s come, bringing
you to my bare arms.”

Agha Shahid Ali, from “Memory (from Faiz Ahmed Faiz),” in Rooms Are Never Finished: Poems (W. W. Norton & Co., 2001)

Kinesis, rather than stasis, creates the condition of possibility for the performance of memory. Kinetic memory—memory in motion—arises through the radical reconstruction of landscape and the realignment of relationships between people and place.

Caitlin DeSilvey, from “Memory in Motion: Soundings from Milltown, Montana,” Social & Cultural Geography (v. 11, no. 5, 2010) 



There’s a door that begins with a hole in the heart.
There are these old feelings I carry on the chain.
There are little cloisters of darkness in the light.
There is the desire of the rain for the willow’s roots.
There’s the rain bringing its memories
of what happens higher up.
The dust is already settling in my dreams.
There’s a suitcase beside a road afraid to go on.
I’m not saying it’s mine. I’m not saying it’s yours.

Richard Jackson, from “Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Mississippi Review (v. 20, no. 3, Spring 1992)

I look upon our memory not as an element which accidentally retains or forgets, but rather as a consciously organizing and wisely exclusionary power. All that one forgets of one’s life was long since predestined by an inner instinct to be forgotten. Only that which wills to preserve itself has the right to be preserved for others.

Stefan Zweig, from The World of Yesterday (University of Nebraska Press, 1942)

Robert Doisneau, Le Manège de Monsieur Bamé (Mr. Bame’s Carousel), 1955.

Robert Doisneau, Le Manège de Monsieur Bamé (Mr. Bame’s Carousel), 1955.

(via memoryepsilon)