poetry

I Hold the Record Now, With Hands Wrinkled. {poetry}

 

The opening bars of a song, a note that flutters out from a little used book — such signposts to our past can bring forward a rush of memories.

This allows us to watch our own lives from a third-person viewpoint, and, with the experience that comes with age, see objectively what had occurred. Our minds may also wander to what might have been if we had taken a path offered to us which at the time we didn’t see. The line between memory and imagination becomes blurred, until our story is both real and unreal, at once truth and fiction.

Nostalgia is a state of comfort, but can also bring with it unsettling feelings of regret. Perhaps its most important lesson is that life is not a rehearsal, as my dad likes to say. We may be merely players, but we must play every part with fervor.

***

I find it in one of those boxes
I’d stored in the attic when we moved
My finger traces across the paper cover
Collecting dust and revealing Ella’s smiling face

I remember when you handed it to me
On that freezing January day, nineteen years ago now

Try Track Four, you smiled shyly
Pushing your glasses up your nose and staring at your feet
Before you ran to double maths, shivering in your duffle coat

I held the LP in my hand on that Tuesday in the yard
The cover was smooth, save for
Two corners folded from being in your schoolbag

In the evening, I took it back to my dorm
Lifted the lid of the record player
Carefully sliding out the black disk with hand outstretched
Dropped the needle on the fourth groove

Outside it was beginning to snow
Tiny flakes pattering down on Westminster Abbey

My funny valentine, sweet comic valentine…

I listened all night, lying on my bed.

In the morning, I tried to return the LP to you
But you hurriedly said I should keep it

I didn’t know, then, what you were telling me

What you couldn’t say in words

I hold the record now, with hands wrinkled
From work and children and age
Living a life in which you play no part

I hear the static crackle and see the marks on my dorm ceiling
The smoky tones washing over me

Yet the cover remains silken smooth under my fingertips

As if that song, as if that moment,
When I could have been your valentine,
Remains frozen by the snowfall of that wintry evening.

***

Tamiko Mackison is a half-Japanese mother of two. She read Latin and French at New College, Oxford. When there’s no pandemic, she’s hired as a wedding pianist from time to time. During 2021, she has had work published or has work forthcoming in Pandemic Magazine, Poetry and Covid, New English Review, DeRailleur Press, Pure Slush Lifespan (Friendship volume), Rising Phoenix Review, Broadkill Review, Impspired, South Florida Poetry Journal, The High Window Press, The Orchards Poetry Journal, Whimsical Poet, Amethyst Magazine, Pangolin Review, Green Ink Poetry, Poetically Magazine, Songs of Eretz, miller’s pond, Grand Little Things and Littoral Magazine. She was longlisted for the Plough Poetry Prize 2021.

***

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