I walk over to Fred’s house on a whim

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

I walk over to Fred’s house on a whim because he called my dad and said I’m making blueberry pecan pancakes and his wife Sandra gives me a big hug

I don’t miss anything but a Carolina summer and how it grabs on to you

The air thick like swimming, a humid hug to fill a hollow chest

blood orange and blueberry green iced tea is how north carolina smells in summer

or maybe I just remember drinking iced tea in one slow, continuous sip

from chilled colored glasses refracting warm light

Wanting everyone to taste it too while wasps and cicadas filled the porch & trees

Tall green trees full of screaming things

Fingers pick up dust lining the grooves of deck chair cushions

bare feet finding warm concrete - soles melting into smooth curb, shying from rough street

and curling into cool grass and soft dirt,

and underneath, endless red clay rising to surface under the backhoes

and from the hot sidewalk, the spewing smell of the lawn mowers and leaf blowers

droplets from the dog’s tongue evaporate on contact with concrete, her old fur sun-warmed

Turtles peek up in the dock’s shade, heads emerging from the murk into the sun

Everything still and humming.

The heavy thunderclouds about to breathe out.

The clean cool inhale of a lingering storm.

Author’s note:

The first day of class in Embodied Writing, we chose a sensory memory to write about, dance about, and write about again. In that moment, I was particularly interested in olfactory or smell memory: how difficult it is to capture and conjure up, but how strong smell recall is. It has a similar effect as dance, where movement can have a memory strongly attached, but it’s temporal and temporary. A few days before I had opened my packets of iced tea up and remarked, shocked, to my roommate, that that’s what North Carolina smells like in summer, but realized it was, perhaps, just the way we build up memories of a place around what we do there and call it intrinsic to the place.

Taking time to move physically through these memories with my body, not just in my mind, brought forth more details and sensory specificity, because of the effect that the place physically, emotionally, and mentally has on me. In revisions I lengthened the lines, reluctant to at first because of my habits of shorter line breaks, but I was reminded of how my parents' elderly southern gentleman neighbor speaks; his sentences never quite seem to end.


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©2019 Johanna Berliner