Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 25, January 2013—Feminist Issue)

Sandra Doller
from Memory of the Prose Machine

The structure of the miracle has a similar form: out of another time, from a time that is alien, arises a ‘god’ who has the characteristics of memory, that silent encyclopedia of singular acts, and who, in religious stories, represents with such fidelity the ‘popular’ memory of those who have no place but who have time—‘Patience!’… But all these variants could very well be no more than the shadows—enlarged into symbolic and narrative projections—thrown by the journalistic practice that consists in seizing the opportunity and making memory the means of transforming places. … In short, what constitutes the implantation of memory in a place that already forms an ensemble? That implantation is the moment which calls for a tightrope-walker’s talent and a sense of tactics; it is the instant of art. Now it is clear that this implantation is neither localized nor determined by memory-knowledge. The occasion is taken advantage of, not created. … Like those birds they lay in other species’ nests, memory produces in a place that does not belong to it. … Memory derives its interventionary force from its very capacity to be altered—unmoored, mobile, lacing any fixed position…

—Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life

Three women take three wild walks into the future. That’s as high as I can count. When percolating on the aspects of cartography versus karate, stop and shrink a bit. Take your deserts out o your poche and lay it out clear for us to see. Us to melt and see. When I was this high, I was exactly this high. When she met bad men, she loved them. Taught me how. When my mother was only a pre-mother, she knew more. More about surgical removal of the occipitals than she would later by the camera with the bees in her hair. Not her bonnet, her hair. Her curlers. Her jeans. Her kerchie. That was the look in the days of the seven gardens. The seven gardens had a way with us. There was one tv. And you hit it. There was a refrigerator that buzzed, really hollered. I am getting looked over a lot. Looked over my shoulder and sown—not sewn—not down—sown as in sow. It isn’t me that smells like that, it isn’t the desert, it’s the other lady and her dry spaces. It’s not funny how much that’s true. How often. How much. How many is it true to watch the violin in front of you turn back into a snapbox with a rubberband and Amy Carter playing for you only you. Where is Amy Carter now? What is she carrying? And on about? She had a perfect blue ribbon shiny on one side, rocks on the other. My parents hated Amy Carter. Don’t follow Amy Carter they said. She’s a protester. She marches. She resists. Don’t resist, rest. Don’t march, starch! She went to public school, she went to Brown, where is she now when we need her? Sucking peanuts by the shot glass through a glass candy straw. She will raise our taxes. My parents told us to go to bed and pray that Reagan wins the election because otherwise we will be poor. We will have to pay our taxes. We will have to send Amy Carter to public school when she should go to private school like good girls do. This is not this pipe, this is not a fiction. This is the face of the child in the morning, clean and glisty. This is the child not watching The Morning After. The Yawning After. The After Pill. This is that child. This is the child I don’t have but have. This is Amy Carter speaking, can you hear me from the den? Can you hear me in the kitchen? Can you hear me Amy Carter in your public school vest? I’m talking to you Amy Carter, dust off those signs, little girl, get out your baton and blue ribbon, my piglet. It’s time to march Amy Carter. Into the room and turn off that tv, really slap off that remote and get back to 1979 where we left our sense making machines. Aunt Doonbuggie was Amy Carter with dreads, sawing off the top of her car in 1984 as a protest to the overlords. Or just to turn a Pinto a Doonbuggie. How many women will rescue a man who just got a brick in the face in a public bathroom? Answer: plenty. You’d be surprised, you oughta be surprised. If I had a way to remember different episodes of the story, like how very Florida it all was, and the crocodile cameras, and the tiny boy cousins who couldn’t read by 10. Or just liked the sound of my voice. Remembering every time been liked is like a warning—get suspicious, that like might last. Get out. Get out of the room, Amy Carter, my parents want to kill you. Still. Still angry about the angry women, the ones who won’t take their sex changes easy like the pill. There are only three of us anymore. We stand like trees.