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Theories of Time and Space by Natasha Trethewey

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How do we experience memory? How do we sit with the things that have happened to us vis-a-vis how we remember them? How is memory different from history, and how do we separate the threads of what we know and what we’ve learned?

Is home a place we make, or a place we go back to, and what is the difference?

And what about remembering?

Years ago, M. and I corresponded about the connection between time and water. I wrote, I have always thought that time was both a stream and a waterfall. An endless body of water that connects like Escher’s stairs. Sometimes everything is calm, and then you somehow reach the end and you get this rush, this fright, and you plunge and you scream and you fall, and then you realize it’s not the end, that it is beginning, again.

Perhaps time is a place, too. Perhaps a burial ground, or an attic, or a bodega of transient things. I’ve lost things to time. Perhaps myself.

Theories of Time and Space
Natasha Trethewey

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on the mangrove swamp—buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry—tome of memory,
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph—who you were—
will be waiting when you return.

This is from Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey, published by Mariner Books, 2007.

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