The storybook ranch’s kitchen in 1963. Note the red step stool so that I could reach the stovetop to make my own grilled cheese sandwich.

I drove to the old neighborhood in northeast Wichita the other day to see how it looks now. It is larger, of course. The wheat fields behind my street long ago turned into another street with more houses. I did not expect the house to look so different though. The first photo is what it looks like now. Of course, it’s gray. Everything home decor is gray now. However, I did not expect the storybook trim to be gone and bird cove at the top turned into a purposeless box. I also didn’t expect the red brick fascia with oozing grout to be gone, replaced by straight, flat, buff brick. I wonder what else has been homogenized.

As remembered.

That is what I remember. Today though, I doubt memory and doubt, a sad word for a poet who must build reality from memory whether it is real or not, as long as it is true. I want to aim for truth, which is a slippery thing. For example, the essay “Just Being Practical” I published was real. and I remember the 2007 anthology it came out in and I had several copies of that book, none of which I can find in my new home office. I have the Word doc an odt, and a pdf in cloud storage, but none will open. All of them are corrupted. Does the essay exist then? Can I reconstruct it from what I remember? I find I want those words again now that my life is shifting from a fast pace to one more contemplative. Past-me was sometimes smart-me and I want to invoke her today. I hope that she isn’t gone, also corrupted by the years.

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