Lights on.
There were flashbulbs for parties
Glistening cubes of silver and plastic pop
Instamatic moments that seal in the magic

Lights off.
There were whispers, always whispers of something
undefinable but so utterly diagnosable
A distant hum coming to run us over

Lights on.
Ballerina dolls and home made coats
Not the best pot roast, but well intended
Another week ended, condensation on kitchen windows

Lights off.
Creeping fears, restless tears for so much but
so hard to explain, hard to understand
Just wringing hands and a choke in throat

Lights on.
Toffee apples and turtle necks trimmed in broderie
made just for me. Dad’s chair just there, newspaper shuffles
and a war movie every week as if on repeat… please… repeat

Lights off.
Nothing here, nothing there, only words
now threadbare and scattered to who knows
where? Where? Where? But the answers don’t care, all gone

Lights on.
Bulb still flashes now and then, parties start again
Photos take aim, fit new pictures into frame of course
but in every one, a black hole goes unnoticed in the corner

Lights off.

Written for Poetics over at dVerse Poets Pub where my talented friend Stuart McPherson is hosting and serving up a fantastic prompt that invites us to write about growing up. If you haven’t dropped in to see him, you should!


32 responses to “Flashbacks

  1. Oh, this is bittersweet. The precious memories of people who populate our childhood photos but who are no longer there in our adulthood linger like ghosts – the black hole in the corner speaks so much of absence.

  2. Very cool poem Vanessa. Love the contrasts and the way you have the reader travel down two different perspectives…..I really enjoyed the way you used the camera as the innocent bystander…and in the ‘pop’ of its flashbulb…and actually, I think this a very adult way of looking back and reflecting of those moments that we started to become ‘grown up’- by this I mean, we don’t remember everything, but we do rememebr snapshots. Important and meaningful snaphsots. I guess these go someway to making up who we are to varying degrees. Very effective & thoughtful, and something I was able to relate to.

  3. flashbacks back in time, seeing the pic and knowing exactly how the moment felt, how the moment made you feel, the lights on and off make this very effective as well..

  4. really a moving piece…the lights on lights off was a great affect not only in transition of scene but mood as well in this….and how these same could be happening…the good with the not so good….def felt several of these without you having to tell me….

  5. Strong writing here….the difference between lights on and lights off so vivdly told. The darkness in the lights off was not only due to lack of light. What a contrast you showed in feelings…..between the ‘lights off’ and ‘lights on’ activities / feelings.

  6. The black hole is still breaking my heart…there’s an entire novel in that statement alone. Love the throwback to the flash cubes…but it is that black hole that lingers. You are a gifted wordsmith, lady!

  7. It made me giggle, some nights my sister and I would hide in the cupboards or under the beds because we were afraid of things in the dark. Weird when your own kids are doing the same in an odd de ja vous!!

  8. An inventive write…capturing all the moments, the fun times and with growing up there are always the dark moments looming in a corner. Many layers to this one, great poetry.

  9. Very cool. And the picture of the flashcubes made me smile. I remember those well from many family get togethers when I was a kid.

  10. Oh this is amazing, centering on the flashcubes and using them both as metaphors and to frame the various incidents and milestones of a life unfolding is just brilliant. It brought back many memories of my own, running both parallel and perpendicular to the scenes you drew. Beautiful.

  11. I like this. We all have flashbacks, some good some not so much. You captured the essence of growing up, often sad mixed with the good old times.

  12. I love this – although there is a sadness that breaks my heart. But I learned a long time ago, that sometimes (most times) a broken heart is a chance to love. Thank you for this, Vanessa. ~ Much love, Bobbie

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