Open Letter to Patti Smith, Day 4
It’s hard not to accuse myself of exaggeration. Am I writing it this way because that’s how it happened, or am I writing what makes the better story? Am I performing for you? Am I performing for me? Was it not at all as bad as I remember or can I not remember how bad it was?
My younger sister tells me, “I know you had it bad as a kid.” And I wonder what she’s talking about, as if I weren’t there, as if she’s making things up, as if I don’t believe her.
Another time she says, “There were good times, there were parties, before Mom found God.” I keep insisting it was bad even as we were dancing and laughing. I insist, insist, insist as if she doesn’t believe how it was with me, as if she’s not my loving witness.
The ground is still shifting as it did when I was a kid and could never get it right because the rules never stayed still, shifting their borders like light changes as you watch it stream through a glass that you are waving back and forth in front of a bright window.
The ground still shifts, but now I am the surveyor, my memory the inconsistent mapmaker.