Stories help, /especially those we’ve heard before./They come from us, a chorus. We call/them back when we need them, memorize/their numbers and phonemes, the way they/like to leave us. This book belongs to/you, every day you forget it more. ---From “Storytime” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 09-06-11
Do you remember the last story she told you
before you asked for another “real story this time?”
You don’t, because you have stopped listening
to stories that start with “once upon a time.”
There is no time. There are only anxious times,
and lonely times, and sleepless times. No more.
Remember how gently she would say “enough”?
No more. It did not mean the end of those stories,
but that she, too, had to catch the same trip you
were trying to get on, that shut-eye choo-choo.
Remember? She had to be at work extra early,
the new boss was in town. She needed the job.
You would not want to listen to breadline yarns,
would you? Once upon a time, there was hunger
in the cities, the jobless and homeless fathers
and mothers queued for rice and dried beans,
the canned sardines gone, there were only stories
of how fast stray dogs and cats disappeared,
and reappeared in chewable cuts on makeshift
tables in the woods. Remember how tenderly
she prayed that you would wake up and find
that all your wishes have come true? Remember?
That story book belonged to her, then to you,
but everyday you leaf through it, you forget it more.
---Albert B. Casuga