By Mariella Parmenter
A combination of photos taken this spring, as I prepared to graduate high school, along with poems attempting to capture a range of emotions I’ve struggled to articulate.
How do I remember the pain of the past?
Does the sun rise each day to torture me?
Or does it rise in an attempt to re-announce the existence of goodness in the world?
It seems as though the sun’s rise and rest taunts those who are haunted
And offers a new beginning for those who inspire suffering.
The sun peaks when we expect it,
But the memory of its rays
Is never as exact as we recall.
I saw the sun peak during a moment of despair,
Though there was no goodness,
No brightness in sight.
I struck my fist with a determined power
And I was suddenly surrounded by a bruised sky.
A violent red,
To a purple-blue mist of worry
And a blinding yellow, once again.
The sky was as bruised as my hand.
But I can’t decide
If the bruising began to show
Before my first memory of its existence
Or if one single, painful experience
Caused all of this damage.
As my body begins to move slower,
remember less, care less, love less,
and become detached from “reality”,
I’m granted a peaceful space in my mind. At least while I’m in it,
The space is peaceful.
Space in an unsafe mind.
I’m not sure when my mind became
of any sort.
Another place that doesn’t allow me to feel
unburdened of intrusive thoughts,
Another place I cannot escape.
I’ll stop sharing my plans and ideas,
and I’ll stop thinking of special tid-bits that make others laugh
And cry because I’ve realized:
A host body cannot possibly know
It holds the same worth as it did
At the time before it was regarded as a host.
It wasn’t always a host.
In order for what I’m about to say to make sense
You must acknowledge that every ice cream shop has its own smell.
I’m not saying it’s a bad smell, but I’m saying there is a smell.
And the ice cream shop across the street from my apartment,
Which has been closed for many years now,
Smells of sweet soft serve, but also has a hint of tartness.
This phantom of a scent reveals itself at random times,
But I have recognized that specific scent which is so amazingly
That exact ice cream shop.
Nostalgia Part II
Desert plants only emit their scent after a night of rain, which
I can smell at my beloved summer home: grandma and grandpa’s house.
The air-conditioner. Its scent can be compared to that of play-dough.
My sister and I would pretend to cook our culinary desires
On top of the ridges, the heat intended to warm the house in the winter, not our fake food.
My great-grandmother’s scent was most potent
When she asked to steal the “sugar” from my neck with her kisses.
I own a bottle of her perfume;
It was one of the few things I took from her belongings after she passed.
I remember the decorative, colorful, wooden buoys
That hung around my great-grandparent’s backyard.
I remember the goldfish pond next to the giant stalks of sunflowers
And the lemon tree. The tree contributed to many family dinners.
A little patch of dirt set away from the nourished plant life
Was reserved for the great-grandkids to play in,
Toy dinosaurs were hidden deep beneath the dirt
To be dug up with mini garden tools.
I remember all of these details,
But most importantly,
I am reminded of how much I loved living.
I didn’t know there was only one interval of time I could feel the same giddiness
Of sneaking off through the side door to the garage and eating
As many rocket-pops as I could with my most favorite people in the world: my cousins.
I didn’t know at the time there would be a last time I would feel that way.
And now I can only remember through memory and images and
It hurts to remember. It really, really hurts.
Why do I keep hurting myself?
I can’t control the senses that bombard me with memories
I would rather forget
So I can stop
Hurting all the time.
But the memories aren’t the only culprit.
This poetry collection is a condensed attempt of surveying emotions that I don’t understand. I use poetry to reveal the artistic and beautiful side of having such complicated thoughts and feelings that I struggle to vocalize. It’s difficult to know what I want for myself once I come to a conclusion about an idea I’ve been developing, because truthfully, there is no clear solution you can check off a list or find in a book written by those who have “done life before.” Nothing is ever that simple, but I think that we, as humans, tend to dive very deep into an inconclusive topic only to find there is nothing that can be done to fully fix the problem or achieve something that makes your life better than before. I have no expectations from any person who reads my work, but I do hope that my writing can be potentially inspiring to others and provide the opportunity to experience nostalgia and feel the similar, if not the same, bewildering things I experience when I remember my past with a different perspective. The photos were taken by me on my wide Fujifilm camera and my mini instax polaroid this spring.
Mariella is the eldest of four sisters in her family of six. She spends her time writing sonnets, baking French patisserie, singing musical theater and crocheting. As a 17-year-old junior vocal major, she has studied music in Italian, German, French, Latin and Spanish. She values her alone time and the processes it takes to generate creative flow and artwork.