For every one of those faces pictured on the obituary page, thousands of memories have been swept out of the world, never to be recovered. I encourage everyone to write down their memories before it’s too late. Here’s a fine example of that by Margaret Hasse, who lives in Minnesota.
Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names –
my boyfriend and me –
called to his office for skipping school.
The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down rolling asphalt roads
through the Missouri River bottoms
beyond town, our heads emptied
of review tests and future plans.
We stopped on a dirt lane to hear
a meadowlark’s liquid song, smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.
Now forty years after that geography lesson
in spring, I remember the principal’s words.
How right he was in saying:
This will be part of
your permanent record.
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