Recuerdo

June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable —
But we looked into fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and the pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

– Edna St. Vincent Millay

The repeated lines are the immoveable objects (the blunt narrative arc) of memory around which all other details swirl. There were apples. There were pears. A newspaper landed on a hand but fluttered away. Insignificant things, and Millay recounts them in such a deadpan manner that we wonder if they even matter. But of course they do. It’s always the details that anchor memories, that mean so much in so little.

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