Triya Marco: A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF, a poem

Little me,
Do you remember?
The wait for chocolates
Promised in whispers early in the day?

On the couch, kneeling to full height
Peering through windows
Eyes wistful, ready
for promises filled.

Little me,
Do you remember?
The caress of a breeze
Too early to mean morning?

Fighting the sands littered in your eyes
With warmth from the pan de sal.
The glow of pride in a
Big kid task, done.

Little me,
Do you remember?
Face pressed on a shoulder
Padded to touch, and cooled by fake air?

A fortress exuding warmth, standing tall
With arms encircled on waist
A greeting, inconsequential
But lasting all the same

It wasn’t just that
But do you remember?

There was more to that.
That, that gave you wings,
Unclipped and ready to soar.

It wasn’t all littered
With frantic knocks on windows
During nights that never did turn to light.

Or gasps of air in midafternoon,
The swipe of a fan aimed at
A form shivering and bent

It wasn’t all rain drenched flights
Only to greet faces of those
Already gone by.

Or the rants of drunken figures
Pounding on domed glass
Asking for entry

It wasn’t all existence in pits
Trying to fill the void
Of a jet in taxi.

Or the rounds in empty halls
Shoving and pulling
To fill in the noise

There was more than that

Do you remember?

“A Letter to My Younger Self” was created under the influence of many of the works throughout the semester. Primarily it focuses on One!Hundred!Demons by Lynda Barry, Leche by R. Zamora Linmark, and “ON/FOR SOLITUDE: LETTER TO MY NEPHEW” by Jason Magabo Perez. Each of these works have an emphasis on childhood and innocence, they carve out a space for the traumas that many dismiss because they assume that children forget. Finally, they aim to rectify those traumas in their own ways.

In this poem, I try to do the same. Although, unlike in each of the works, my traumas aren’t outright addressed. They are alluded to, to emphasize the lack of memory. The repetition of the question, ‘do you remember?’, draws from the idea that children are supposed to forget. But specially in the way that forgetting prompts them to question their own memories. The fond memories presented in the eyes of a child are wistful, basking in a glow of wonder that makes one question its truth and validity. Thus giving a double meaning to the question of ‘do you remember?’ — by asking my younger self for confirmation that these things did happen. This double meaning asks for affirmation that the good is not entirely made up.

Whereas, the traumas that I list are clipped. Their descriptions remain short because they are moments that remain present without needing to. Memories, repressed but overshadowing every other image that make up my past. The question of ‘do you remember?’, was only asked at the end because it doesn’t need the same confirmation as the happier memories — I know that they are real even if I don’t acknowledge them easily. This kind of relationship with memories and how one exists in parts is one that was exemplified by Barry’s work. Barry asks why existing in parts as children ‘forget’ trauma is considered resilience when in reality it leaves grown up children more confused than ever as they chase after those memories. And she’s trying to fight those notions by drawing her demons out. For me, those memories not only “erase” themselves they create a question of the validity of every other memory.

It’s the kind of questioning that Vicente in Leche refuses to even consider when he first went back to Manila. The one where memory is allowed to be malleable material that can be formed by personal perception. To him, his memories were the be all and end all of his experience. Thus he created an alternate reality of only his limited point of view. As a child, he took each moment and each action against him personally. Therefore, his actions feel stagnant as he clings to his memories of the past — even when it let him go before his journey even began. The only way to shatter those feelings of delusion would have been to acknowledge the truth and present. Therefore, my poem is the same kind of acknowledgement of the past by trying to understand both terrible and good memories. It is about acknowledging that my perception as a child, limited as it may have been, was valid and should be considered.

Finally, the piece was essentially formed after Perez’s work. In “On/For Solitude: Letter to my Nephew” it shows how his nephew descends into feelings of uneasiness and discomfort with his identity. It shows the pain of growing up and losing the innocence that one once took for granted, crushed by internalizing judgment from outside forces. Although my piece doesn’t have the same chronological effect of showing my own growth, it shows a different maturity in understanding the memories. There’s less wistful description in the latter memories. As if there’s an underlying greater understanding of the events. The descriptions don’t offer elaborations either.

This letter to my younger self is in acknowledgement and solidarity with what my younger self has experienced. This was much like how Perez tried to acknowledge what his nephew was going through but unsure of how to fix it for him. I am unsure of how else to figure out and navigate myself through questions about my identity. It is further more confusing since my memories feel fragmented. However, writing like this — in acknowledgement and in trying to understand what I do remember — helps the understanding and coming to terms with all that has happened.