I visited this mission, near Tucson, Arizona, six times,
Each with slightly different groups of people
Spread out over sixteen years

With my father, who has passed on,
With my mother, who has as well,
With three of my children, all grown,
With my wife twice, almost fifteen years apart

And at no point did I ever think of
What we were doing as “memories in the making”,
Or if I did, I thought of that as a good thing,
Not as the perplexing thing it has become

When you think back on a memory
That you haven’t visited in a while,
It’s something like watching
An episode of a beloved television series
That you haven’t seen in years

But when you go over and over the same memories,
It’s like a show you’ve seen so many times
That, while you still love it,
Has lost a lot of its impact
Because you know it so well, and
It never changes

It stays static

Sharing memories with others who were also there
Can help, because they may remember things you don’t,
Which adds depth and change to what is otherwise unvarying

But, once people are gone, that option may not be there

I have realized, writing these autobiographical pieces,
Just how much memory loves to lie:
It is very hard to remember things right, or
In ways that are not self-serving (at worst),
Or at least self-preserving (at best)

But I think I remember, at the San Xavier mission
That the desert pushes right up to it,
But that from the back, you can view the parts of the valley
Where the pecan trees and the housing areas are

So you have the late 1700’s on one side
And the 21st century on the other

We are all, constantly, facing forward and back
Towards our past and towards the future:
And sometimes we live long enough to find

That the future is just as full of reruns

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