paul hostovsky



Small Thing

“And this is Uli Detling—
she had a lisp,” says Aunt Edie
who has dementia,
but can still remember Uli
Detling and her lisp
from 60 years ago,
but cannot remember
having already said this to me
just two minutes ago,
as we page through my mother’s
wedding album together.
She says again, “And here
is Uli Detling, a friend of the family—
she had a lisp.” And here is Edie,
and here is Edie in her light blue
taffeta dress—she can’t be more than
16—at my parents’ wedding, standing
beside my mother, grinning. And here
I wasn’t even born yet. I think
I can remember back to when I was 4,
or maybe 3. But before that
I can’t remember. I can’t remember my first
attempts at forming words, or the taste
of my mother’s milk, or being
born. And I can’t remember
not being. And I can’t remember
God. Sometimes I have glimpses though—
moments when I can sort of remember
something of God. Not all of God, but
some small thing. “And this
is Uncle Herman. And this is
Aunt Miriam. And I think this is
Uli Detling, yes, she was a friend
of the family. Poor thing, she had a lisp.”

Paul Hostovsky is the author of three books of poetry, Bending the Notes (2008), Dear Truth (2009), and A Little in Love a Lot (2011). To read more of his work, visit him at


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