What we can't do without

by Joseph Murphy
We'd never be able to manage without our memories. We’d be inhuman; blocks of stone.

And we collect memories in many ways, not just in our minds. We like to hold them; regard them. Think of all the pictures you’ve saved. The jacket that is too worn to wear but reminds you fondly of something long ago: It remains in the closet.

Perhaps the scent of a flower or of loam after a storm can bring us back to our childhood or adolescence. Where would be we if we lost these connections?

Or it could the remembrance of when we first read a poem − even the lines from a poem − like those from Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale, which bring me back to my early twenties:

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!

Memory, of course, is malleable. We all tend to favor the good over the bad; often painting the good better than it might have once seemed. It also changes with age and some things that once seemed so brightly remembered have to be patiently recalled.

For Roxanna and I, Halfway Down the Stairs’ poetry editors, it has been another interesting few weeks reading and discussing the submissions we have received on this issue’s theme. And we thank you all for your artful and thought-provoking poetry. The fiction and non-fiction selections have also been painstakingly reviewed by other members of our editorial team. All of us hope you enjoy this new issue − and of course that it gives each of our readers something to remember.
Joseph Murphy has been published in a number of journals, including The Ann Arbor Review, Northwind and The Sugar House Review. His first collection, Crafting Wings, (Scars Publications 2017) is available on Amazon. His second collection, Having Lived, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Murphy is a member of the Colorado Authors' League and samples of his work can be found at the Colorado Poets Center. He has lived all over the country and admires people who have been able to stay in one place. He is married, has two grown children, and three cats.

© 2013, Joseph Murphy