Growing Up

If I could choose,
I would remember
white fences with green grass
penned behind it
and warm sun rays
heating my skin
to the beet red of summer.

If I could choose,
I would remember
family vacations
and long stretches of highway,
Madonna blasting in my headphones
and dozens of tiny chipmunks
scurrying up my dad’s legs.

If I could choose,
I would remember
Disneyland and Santa Cruz
and crawdads in the creek
behind my house.

If I could choose,
that is what I would remember.

But I can’t choose,
can I?

I can’t choose
to forget
the yelling,
the words ripped from raw throats
as I hid beneath my blankets
wishing for the ending.

I can’t choose
to forget
the RV where I spent a whole summer
in sweltering heat,
a migraine pulsing through my body
like a demon begging to get out
while my mother laughed like I was faking.

I can’t choose
to forget
watching her drive away
as I held all of our belongings
in one hand and my sister’s fingers
clutched in the other.

I can’t choose
to forget
the forgetting,
the abandoning,
the starving,
the crying.

But I can choose
to remember
the striving,
the thriving,
the living,
and the persisting

that comes with
all the pain of
growing.

~Patience

***

I gave my freshmen an assignment to write a poem about their childhood and their memories and their maturity. I told them I’d write one too. It had to have repetition and imagery. This is my poem.

3 thoughts on “Growing Up

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