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You Become Your Oldest Memory

Eight punches in,

tinnitus and swollen eyes collapsed

the world into

a building


Where beyond


tall pines

staggered more

than my father

in a fist fight.

My inheritance–

stamped purple

on his cheek–

too subtle

to see


I rose from the sidewalk

and caught a reflection

in storefront glass. Myself

obscured behind bruises

and blood and lost years–

adolescence crushed

in clenched hands. Unable

to understand what was attacking

me from within, everyone

became an enemy.

Twenty years old,

a hundred miles from home,

my fingers unfurled

and, as if for the first time, I felt

the breeze flow through them like

branches of a sapling.

[Note: This piece first appeared in Volume 55, Issue 2 of Wisconsin Review]

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