I Watched It Happen, and It
Happened to You

I’ve been thinking a lot about memory—how much, if any of it, is true. If you hear the same story over and over, it starts to creep into reality. If enough people tell you something never happened, you start to doubt your own eyes and mind. What actually happened? What didn’t? Who owns the rights to that story? This poem tries to answer those questions.

It’s amazing what our minds
remember and forget. Example.
You say home, I see a firecracker in a jar.
You say Christmas, I smell tangerines
over the radiator. You say man,
I hear a dog growl, flare its poison teeth.
I hear a leather belt, the ice crack, a victim caught
under the wheels. You say you don’t
remember this. It’s been a decade and I hear you
every time I’m in a quiet room.
The past is such a dodgy witness.
The city burned down to a crisp around us
but when they ask what we remember,
we say breakfast. Everyone can see the coal
under my fingernails, but when they ask
what I remember, I remember living:
how big the elevator felt, how small the bus.
How close his hands seemed when we couldn’t
touch. How the road glowed orange in the rain,
how good the coffee tasted, how the streets
cheered for us, every night.

Yanita Georgieva is a Bulgarian journalist raised in Beirut. She is an MA candidate in Poetry at Royal Holloway University and lives in London with her cat, Eugene. You can find her work in Hobart, HAD, Alien, and elsewhere.