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Trace, a poem by David Garyan


When alive,

memory is the most timeless

piece of paper;

it’s invisible to the eye,

like the wind that sways a tree;

it doesn’t fade like stone,

or burn like parchment.

Memory has written

thousands of blank books—

all with enticing covers;

it doesn’t mind

screaming in libraries,

and has learned every language,

except its own.

Memory is monogamous,

but it’s been divorced

in every country.

The hands of memory build igloos,

and its feet walk barefoot on fire.

It finds water in the desert,

and catches sunshine in the Arctic.

No graveyard can bury it;

no preacher dares

deliver its eulogy;

no saint boasts

about carrying its burden;

no tyrant believes

he can escape from its sight.

Memory gets younger

as it gets older;

children care as much about their past,

as old people care about their future.

If memory ended with an “I,”

the world would remember no one,

but sadly it ends with a question.


Why should I care?

Why should I remember you?

No one has ever stayed 21

for more than a year,

because the past and future are the same—

both accept the invitation of time,

and they never forget to come, even

when they haven't been invited.

Life is a party full of uninvited guests;

birth and death visit

for the first and last time.

Yesterday is always a day early. Today is never on time. And tomorrow says it’s time to go.

In times of thirst,

memory is the salt

in the ocean.

In times of hunger,

it's a sea

of bland food.

In times of plenty,

it feeds the thief’s


Why do compasses break

when faith is necessary?

Why do even maps fail,

when doubt looks at them?

A child that

always points south;

an adult who

doesn’t like maps.

Don't forget the photographer

who's tired of his job.

Remember the musician

who only wants to improvise.

Remembrance is a bank

where the poor withdraw

more than the rich.

There’s always one broken lamp

in every reminder,

and during the day

no one can see

that anything is wrong,

but at night,

when the guests are gone

and the laughter has died,

everyone refuses to sleep

in the room with no light.


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