Sometimes I think of the past as though it were a reel of film. A series of individual moments captured and recorded before being spooled up and shelved. A flimsy record of the past collecting dust deep in the cavernous recesses of some ancient library archive.
Finding myself in this dingy and decrepit archive, I unspool the film and stretch it out with my hands. Holding up the film, I focus in on an individual frame. So that’s how it happened, I think as I realize the past to be different than the perceptions and beliefs I had formulated in my mind.
Yes, that’s exactly how I think of the past. The past was a real place of free will and choices. A place of unlimited potential that slowly faded as the unrelenting progression of the present pushed over it and onward toward a new day. Thoughts like these are what led to the entirety of this little project of mine. Soon it too will be pushed over by the progression of time. Not yet, though. Now is the time for me to take a little stroll down memory lane by revisiting some of my earlier work by discussing my top ten favorite poems.
In at number ten is the poem that started it all, “The Past”:
Only remnants remain,
Ruins and ghosts,
Trying to speak to us
Across a great chasm;
But we cannot hear
And must imagine,
Interpret, and reinvent.
“The Past” is the first poem that I published on this site. As such it certainly deserves a spot in my list of the top 10 poems that I have written. Looking back at it now, I can certainly see why I decided to kick off The Past, Present, and Future with it.
When I wrote it, I wanted “The Past” to be a piece that would both encapsulate the main idea behind my first collection and also be able to stand on its own. I opted for a short piece that illustrated the fleeting nature of the past. Indeed, the past is not a place that we can reach. That being the case, there is a quite a bit of imagination, interpretation, and reinvention in our understanding of it. That idea winds its way through my whole collection to a certain degree.
Well, that’s it for now. Next month I’ll discuss poem number nine. In the meantime, feel free to perhaps spend some time thinking about the past and what it means to you.