À la Recherche du Temps Perdu

[Rebecca’s challenge today was to play with things lost in translation, in some sense. This poem probably needs some explanation (which might be a bad sign for a poem). The first volume of Marcel Proust’s seven volume (!) novel has a famous incident of the narrator recovering memories of a childhood home when he eats a madleine. The title of this poem is the French title of the novel. The first English translation was titled “Remembrance of Things Past.” A later better translation has the title “In Search of Lost Time.” The correct French of the last line of my poem is si’l vous plait (if you please). I have a personal backstory around the title of the original translation, but I won’t bore you with that.]

When we eat the madeleine how much is memory and how much imagination
That rich sweet taste crumbs clinging to our tongue, gums, palette
That softness traveling down our throat, right through us
Getting mixed up with everything else we have taken in
And coming out quite differently
So we wrinkle our nose and flush it all away
Wipe ourselves clean of any indigestible remnants of that madeleine
Even while the crumbs still remind our mouth of the original sweetness, softness
Crumbly richness delight
At least until we brush our teeth and get on with life
And then what?
Blankness waiting to be filled with misspelled words
Wrong guesses from the infuriatingly vague crossword clues left by our befores
Or right impressions quietly waiting to be relived?

Do we ever truly remember or remember truly things past when we seek to recapture lost times?
Tell me please, Cher Marcel, but in something less than seven volumes,
See vous plait.

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