©Elisa Salasin, 2009

©Elisa Salasin, 2009

Blocks

Years ago, sitting on the hard wood floor, slick, glossy herringbone, I played blocks with my son, old fashion ones, colors and letters adorning the sides.  There are various shapes as well:

triangles, obtuse and isoceles,
trapezoids,
circles.

We stack them high, making little things.  How do we build a house, he asks?  I place square on square. I say, like this.  He, however, grabs the odd ones, the ones left out, the ones that don’t fit: triangle on circle, square on triangle.  I study the look on his face as they stand by themselves for a second and then

fall.

FOIL

Recently, my middle daughter showed me a problem involving camels, bananas and distance.  I fear there must be an unknown x hiding somewhere.  But I don’t have a clue.  In her eyes I see skepticism.  Looking at the problem, I can only think of FOIL:

first,
outer,
inner,
last.

Is there more than one answer, I offer, smiling.  My daughter snaps the paper back, chastising, you should know how to help, you should know the

answers.

Practical Applications

Hiking through the rocks and heat of Pinnacles State Park, a series of startling geometrical rock formations, we reach the reservoir, an oblong pool, tentative in the blinding sun.  My kids wander; I sit alone next to the water, thinking of my lover.

Hundreds of dragonflies
swarm the shore;
perching on water reeds,
mating.

I lean in to watch.  I yell for my kids.  Come.  We watch as the insects hang on to each other, delicately, bend to connect like fine wire.  We are transfixed; one arches its tail back and, to our surprise, the shape they form during intercourse is a

heart.

Tangrams

My youngest daughter and I start playing Tangrams.  The object of the game is to make a specific shape in a specific time.  I feel like I have been here before, this place of parenting, anxious at the inevitability of outcomes.  My daughter

claps,
shouts,
ok,
let’s play.

I take out the card announcing shape and time, but she has already started; she has built a house.  But that’s not how you play, I hear myself correct, that’s not the rules.  She shrugs, takes the triangle off the top and states like a fact, but it

works.

Shape of Hunger

Cooking dinner for my kids and lover, I cut vegetables into shapes to make a soup; carrots I notice if cut on a slant become

rhombi,
straight down, cylinders,
looked at another way, perfect circles.

I add all this to the diced onions, minced garlic, u-shaped celery.  I know to keep stirring, to sweat them.  It releases the flavor, the smell fills the house, the dark corners, the empty rooms, touches games stored away in closed closets; when it’s ready, we all take our places like nodal points; the lines between us connect.  It is then I discover

memory takes various shapes like loneliness, infinite in its area;
memory has the contours of a story, ragged, variable;
memory equals the weight of the world

and will fit any form

given.

©Tomas Moniz, 2009

Tomas Moniz attended BAWP summer institute 09,  teaches at Berkeley City College, writes for and edits the zine rad dad (a zine on radical parenting which is always looking for submissions), and wonders why all his favorite words are dirty.

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2 Responses to “The Dimensions of Memory by Tomas Moniz”

  1. Glenn Says:

    Tomás: I really like this collection of father/child images: so mathematical. I recall a camel problem with bananas…feels like another life… 🙂

  2. jdannenberg Says:

    Tomas,

    Remember our Summer poetry workshop at SF State? We rode together some evenings? This (prose poem?) made me think about both form and content, how they rely on each other.

    Jennifer Dannenberg

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