Reading The Blue Clerk, 162

“Verso 50”

Later. It is always later. I went to a school and saw the size of the teacher. And the size of the student. And heard the teacher’s voice and saw the teacher’s arms and estimated the teacher’s strength. And, isn’t it remarkable how smallness takes up so much space, how we might be lucky not to feel our vulnerability, how we stride with such confidence, if we do, how we are unaware of our fragility.

When I was small I lived on my mother’s hips and in my father’s long arms.

For many years, I walked behind my mother, holding onto her dress. Holding tightly. I followed her. I held her. Around big people. As though I feared I would lose her. Or she would lose me. That is not the story they tell. The story they tell is that I would run away all the time and they would look for me. And I would be found. I do not remember running away. I was not running away. I was curious and distracted. Sure that the world was kind.

They seemed happy. They were the big ones.

I remember when I felt small and scared, when open closets and open doors become objects to fear, when strangers became strange and I was no longer sure of my place in the world. Was there an event? I don’t think so. Maybe there is screen memory. I remember the fear that made me run out of the house early in the morning, the fear that my own actions were out of my control.

Our mother and father tore each other apart sometimes.

A friend has more memories than I do. I was lucky. I remember loud voices. A disagreement. Mostly, I remember the years of attrition. The first time. And the second. The care with which memories were curated. Curated? Yes. Precious and distinct. Here, they said, you will have what we have made. Precious and distinct.

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