for Dennis Gunderson

Once, once,
you say,
you hope to say,
Memory worked
it worked
into the present;
it was not so costly.
You could laugh about it
around a table,
and they would laugh too,
all of them there.
They are few now,
and memory is costly.

I remember, you say,
The mountains around York
in these mountains,
the winding road,
the family moving forward
into family.
I remember the roads
were paved better there,
the lumber, the houses
unlike these that couldn’t
keep the winter out,
these that are corrugated tin,
palm lumber, bamboo siding:
memory, as thick as the rain here.

Once, once,
memory was not a lament,
the cry of a father
calling to his children
who have gone away;
it was not the echo
in these mountains,
calling back
the impossible tasks,
or this weary voice
I hear,

Oh, that memory were
not only
the dislocation of things
by the allocation of things,
but also the distinct way
in which I love,
all that I have
brought with me,
the sound of singing
and of laughter,
all that is costly
to me, that I have
spent my life for
going out and returning.

Joel Gunderson
JOEL M. GUNDERSON lives in Portland, Oregon, where he waits tables to support his ongoing anonymity as a writer. His other passions include songwriting and spending time with his wife.