American Pillow Book
Things I Have Forgotten
The smell of my grandmother’s orange sweater.
The taste of homemade soup.
How it feels to have my hair split
into six sections, three on each side,
pulled tight and twisted,
pulled tight and twisted.
How to make chili relejos.
The proper temperature for heating oil.
The heat of the moment.
The fire of a foreign tongue sliding across my teeth.
The names of all the Italian soccer players
who fell in love with the girls from America,
all seven of us, pale, blond, fading
in the stale airport air.
How to travel alone.
How to memorize a three-minute jazz dance.
Where my feet belong when I am standing
in a long, long line.
When to stop listening.
Who first told me I am beautiful.
The smell of my first perfume.
The first Christmas my father didn’t buy
my mother new underwear.
The embrace of my first bra.
How it feels
to do something for the first time.
There was a wildly imaginative list poem up at This Is All Your Fault yesterday. Turns out it was based on a pillow book, a traditional, still popular Japanese form. That reminded me of a book I read when I was pregnant with my first child. It was by a young Japanese author and it was full of lists. I had great plans for my own list poems, then I had a baby, I had another, I lost some brain cells, I forgot about list poems. Boy, am I glad I remembered. They're very freeing. Very inspiring.
PS: You should buy Christine's books. They're great.