I CHOOSE..

Posted 1 month ago by John

Tom Pow's Edinburgh International Book Festival session was with writer, Roanna Gonsalves (http://roannagonsalves.com.au). Issues of remembering and forgetting were discussed. As part of the conversation, audience members were issued with a card on which to write, 'I choose to remember...' and 'I choose to forget...' These were read by Roanna and Tom Pow at the end of the session. Here is the poem they made.



I CHOOSE…

I choose to remember my first kiss (under a bridge in Paris).
I choose to forget that I never saw him again!

I choose to remember the white cat asleep on my chest.
I choose to forget the cries in the night.

I choose to remember the good things.
I choose to forget my failures – hard to shut out.

I choose to remember the death of my wife.
I choose to forget the death of my wife.

I choose to remember to go back; my old friends’ birthdays;
that I didn’t belong there either.
I choose to forget that I didn’t grow up here; the taste of food back home;
that I don’t belong here.

I choose to remember the younger days when there was strong family and religious views.
I choose to forget the difficulties the family went through in growing up.

I choose to remember a wonderful past relationship (in my 20s)
with a working class, positive-thinking man – going to football matches etc.
I choose to forget some aspects of my privileged childhood eg boarding school, 
sitting in my dad’s work Rolls Royce!

I choose to remember the good, pleasant times with those I love.
I choose to forget the times of sadness, of shame, of regret –
learn from these lessons, but live on.

I choose to remember jumping rocks along the shoreline in Nova Scotia.
I choose to forget the survival guilt from losing my best friend
who I encouraged to hitch-hike with me.

I choose to remember Algeria, holidays by the sea, French words.
I choose to forget a daughter.

I choose to remember all the happy moments in a long life – aided by old photographs.
I choose to forget the consequences of misidentification.

I choose to remember a long, stable and fulfilling marriage
and family relationships and all that it entails.
I choose to forget frustrations of the days in recent British political life
and a perceived inability to do anything about it.

I choose to remember inspirational words from brilliant writers.
I choose to forget cold feet in wet shoes.

I choose to remember my loving family – my mother, father and brother.
I choose to forget getting wet in the rain.

I choose to remember my happy supportive family.
I choose to forget other people’s bigoted, nasty families.

I choose to remember VW camping.
I choose to forget camping.

I choose to remember my life as a child in Nazi Germany.
I choose to forget... Dates? Names? (I am over 90 years old.)
I have written two books on this subject.
[Note from TP: Ruth L. David, Child of our Time – A Young Girl’s Flight from the Holocaust.]

I choose to remember all the crushes I’ve ever had.
I choose to forget all the things I’ve done wrong.

I choose to remember the funny bits of all my interactions.
I choose to forget whenever I had doubts.


I choose to remember to be true to my many selves – without resentment but joy.
I choose to forget what society wants me to look like.

I choose to remember the peculiarities of my heritage and background.
I choose to forget the pain and fear.

I choose to remember the feeling of being inside of a dream,
protected by the brittle crust of desire.
I choose to forget watching him as he rewrote our history behind closed eyelids.

I choose to remember the love of family and friends after a cancer diagnosis,
changing darkness to light.
I choose to forget feeling diminished by a mean-spirited teacher in primary school.

I choose to remember the large and the small.
I choose to forget nothing and daily fight my poor memory.

I choose to remember sunrises on new horizons,
the blast of hot air as you step from a plane;
random conversations over a glass of wine, number plates. (I don’t know why!)
I choose to forget jet-lag, secondary school embarrassment, the pain of a marathon,
boy band obsessions.

I choose to remember the rigid castes of India and how the middle class
became bottom feeders when they moved to Australia.
I choose to forget how I ignored the poor when in India.

I choose to remember the moments others lift me up,
the feeling of being heard and seen.
I choose to forget the smallness of actions unintentional.

I choose to remember my son’s visit from Adelaide, Australia, a few weeks ago.
I choose to forget my disappointment with a ‘friend’s’ attitude to me.

I choose to remember the consistent love and support from my family.
I choose to forget my pathetic and failed attempt at marriage.

I choose to remember the setting sun
spilling a rainbow over the stillest sea.
I choose to forget lost things I loved.

I choose to remember one emergency joke.
(What did zero say to number 8? ‘Ooh, I like your belt.’)
I choose to forget how rubbish I was in the school band, miming third clarinet.

I choose to remember (if I can) the deeds I have done, good or bad, and judge them.
I choose to forget (if I can) my resentments and hates.

I choose to remember nationalism achieves nothing but conflict.
I choose to forget British cruelty in the Empire.

I choose to remember the image of the ‘broken mirror of diasporic memory’,
reflected in Roanna’s mirror dress.
I choose to forget the muddy path to the book festival entrance.

I choose to remember travelling on holidays.
I choose to forget difficult work situations.

I choose to remember those little conversations.
I choose to forget those little small words that hurt.

I choose to remember my childhood farming roots (and aim to return to them).
I choose to forget the small stuff, annoyances.

I choose to remember love, laughter, beauty, empathy – moments of connection.
I choose to forget: Nothing. For years, I chose to forget pain but it only made it worse,
uninvited fragments returning. So I chose not to bury the pain.
I embrace it and learn from it.

I choose to remember beautiful music.
I choose to forget bad relationships.

I choose to remember the warmth of meeting friends in dreams and memory.
I choose to forget the aching discomfort of acknowledging my incompetence.

I choose to remember (when stressed out in the city) moments of calm
and feeling immersed in nature – looking out at the mountaintops in the Alps
and over the sea in Turkey.
I have tried to forget the ups and downs in relationships
before friendships were forged with people abroad.

I choose to remember understanding of love.
I choose to forget loss of happiness.

I choose to remember laughing with my father. Dancing with my mother.
I choose to forget the one who betrayed me.

I choose to remember the burning passion to change the world through words.
I choose to forget the fear and hatred my body wants to succumb to
when I realize some people are unwilling to change.

I choose to remember so many great books.
I choose to forget my poor ageing looks!

I choose to remember everything.
I choose to forget nothing.

And you…?


An audience poem, transcribed by Tom Pow from cards issued at the session with Roanna Gonsalves at the EIBF, Sunday 11 August 2017.
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