In the hard shadow of the moon
when the recesses of light have gone 
and the faint red of the hawk’s shoulder has disappeared from the sky
in the growing pulse of the praying mantis
when the city has come into its own new light
it is here where I often remember:

the weaving of ocean vines
the trails of history, cemented by touch
the small ridged blossom of the cowry shell
the indigo dye made radiant by the seller’s basket.

The way the long grass 
emerges at the shore.
Something of that meeting.

These are memories both distant and near
traces of them lived and felt 
laughing in the company of the ones who came
holding the silence of the moment, as we stare 
with wonder, at the bubbling ruptures of a painter’s canvas,
pull, with care, the clinging skin of a stubborn fruit.

I recall these moments 
not from the grand gesture
of a thing once known, 
but from a small place
the place where my child’s hand
is hidden warmly inside my own.


Copyright © 2019 by Matthew Shenoda. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 13, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The relationship between memory and quiet meditation has always felt like a space of fruition for me as a writer. In that quiet, I am particularly interested in the ways we construct a sense of ourselves and our lineage in relation to place, to history, and to one another; especially those who shape our sense of self—past and present—and remind us that we’ve never been alone. This poem is a small piece of that.”
Matthew Shenoda