In the musical GiGi, Maurice Chevalier and Hermoine Gingold sing a sweet duet called “I Remember It Well.” This poem is sparked by the notion that two memories, side by side, record events very differently.
I sat on the right side
She sat on the left
I turned the pages
She held down our progress
Our mother is between us
Her cool hands stroking our clean hair
I can hear her heart beat with my left ear
My sister with her right
We curve around our mother’s contours each night
Listening to her read
Until we are so sleepy
Dad has to princess-carry us to our beds
Now we are arguing about her last party
It was a red room
No it was gold
It was April
No it was November
Near her birthday
We can only agree that there was a party and
She loved it. Especially when everyone got loose and had fun.
Isn’t this fun? she said over and over.
My sister grimaces.
Don’t you remember when that guy puked in our bathroom?
Don’t you remember all the dirty dishes
And the woman who broke three wine classes?
I shake my head.
I remember mom’s friend with red hair
Dancing by herself in the living room.
She and I argue about most every memory
I wonder how her view of the world
Sitting on the left side of our mother was so different