what I remember about you

by Emily Tong

10 years later, and I still remember this about you: your teeth are so small you needed fake ones put inso your smile wouldn't have gaps in it, and the homegrown dentals would be less mobile. Isn't it odd - the idea of teeth moving around inside your gums? My own have, traveled, shall we say,in the 2 months since I 'forgot' to wear my retainers. I thought I was invincible, you see. I thought I could live my mother down, could stand up to the challenge, could control my own canines. Not so.

I also remember that small balcony from your second floor room. Just wide enough for your french doors. Just narrow enough that I felt like an animal caged (though outside) when you surprised me and locked the glass paneled doors behind me. You must have been bored, now I reflect, waiting until I was desperate enough to yell for your mother (who frightened me with her big hair and stylish outfits that seemed to match the home decor). You smiled with those tiny, perfect teeth - tiny and perfect like everything else about you looked - and opened the door. I was relieved I hadn't started crying.

I felt like I did that time when Elizabeth (5 years earlier) had locked me and Katie in her bedroom. I didn't understand how bad her tantrums were - bad enough that her parents were frightened of her. Long enough that they chose to purchase an exterior locking device for her room, effectively confining the beast they'd created: my best friend at age 5.

That's how I felt. Cornered and immobilized, the memory of it somehow greater than the exact thing. Like my teeth now, retained by plastic, reminiscent of wires and glue and rubber bands fixing, remaking, forcing, locking.

That's what I remember about you. Isn't it odd?


Posted on 11/13/2011
Copyright © 2022 Emily Tong

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Shannon McEwen on 11/13/11 at 07:14 PM

first of all I like this as prose, but I also see some great potential in using less words and sharpening the great images you have here. In the first line you're missing a space between in and so:) Thanks for sharing:)

Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 11/14/11 at 05:14 PM

I don't think there's enough prose around here. Fantastic.

Posted by Peter Hsu on 05/08/12 at 07:30 AM

I think this piece clearly embodies the wandering, associative, and poignant nature of memory. Excellent.

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