Poem: “What We Were”



What We Were

 a collaborative poem

I remember when she told me I was her best friend via Facebook Messenger.

I have forgotten where I placed my glasses.

I remember watching a boy roast and eat crickets.

I have forgotten when I decided I hated sunflower seeds.

I will learn to love myself.


I remember wondering what purple tastes like.

I have forgotten the harmonies for “What I Did for Love.”

I remember throwing eggs in the parking lot, the yolk running on the pavement.

I’ve forgotten what it’s like to play pretend.

I will try never to be disappointed.


I remember going down a metal slide on a hot day and crying as my siblings made fun of me.

I have forgotten the way it feels when fish nibble your toes.

I remember the applause when Lin-Manuel Miranda sang “Alexander Hamilton” for his first entrance.

I’ve forgotten where I’m going.

I will try to remember my past.


I remember wishing I could cry without feeling guilty.

I have forgotten when I had times where there was nothing to do and what it felt like.

I still remember how all of his emotions taste.

I’ve forgotten why I used to hate that girl.

I will become.


I remember peeling grapes and eating the bitter skin.

I have forgotten my sister’s second birthday.

I remember the first time I hugged my father and realized how he was just a person, so fragile.

I’ve forgotten what my father’s voice sounds like.

I will go back to the mountain lake again.


I remember finding out why it’s called “falling in love.”

I have forgotten how to play the recorder.

I remember the way the back of my rabbit’s ears felt.

I’ve forgotten how to string together words in Spanish to make sentences.

I will fly one day.


I remember the time I wore a uniform to school.

I have forgotten how to play the violin after hours of practicing.

I remember crying when I wasn’t strong enough to push the luggage cart at the airport.

I’ve forgotten the words to “Dani California.”

I will let this owl go back to where it came from.


I remember road trips where I imagined myself to be a giant, my enormous hands grabbing trees the size of broccoli.

I have forgotten how to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

I remember my mom yelling at me after I woke up at 4pm.

I have forgotten the smell of cooking asparagus and how I threw up that one time.

I will see her today. (I can’t wait).


I remember smoking for the first time and the feeling in my throat.

I have forgotten how to find my way back to my first home.

I remember going to Jamaica on my 10th birthday.

I have forgotten what it feels like to cry so much you’re hiccuping for air.

I will always sleep in total darkness.


I remember thinking my black hen’s first egg was a rock.

I have forgotten what your face looks like.

I remember climbing a mountain and finding every houseplant  from my childhood, growing at the top.

I have forgotten what my best friend from elementary school’s face looked like.

I will never let my mom cry because of me.


I remember creating a hospital to fix hurt worms with ivy leaves.

I have forgotten how to feel the sun.

I remember climbing the plum trees like a monkey.

I have forgotten the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song.

I will run down the hill to let the wind sing in my ears.

“What We Were” is a poem collectively written by the young women of the Scribes summer writing camp at Hugo House in Seattle, taught by artists Jane WongMichelle Penaloza, and Liza Boardman (TA). Thanks to Katie, Lianna, Clare, Maggie, Phoebe, Natasha, Hannah, and Isabel for sharing this work.

photo credit: glasseyes view the inside to the outside via photopin (license)