They brought me here before my memory.
And yet each time I see where once I came,
My recollection is peremptory.
Past perfect and the present are the same.

I see and I have seen the myrtles lean
With live oaks in the vector of the rains.
They’re written here, both stiff and evergreen,
Engraved invisibly by hurricanes.

One cannot see the stylus of the storm
Except for how it chisels limb and leaf.
The infant’s eyes record no shape or form,
And yet our hearts are carved like bas-relief.

When place and buried memories combine
With my todays and yesterdays of line
The folds and wrinkles of the past appear.
The mind itself becomes a souvenir.

Wilmer Mills

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 20 Number 4, on page 52
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