My earliest memory is from age two.
The lurch as the car hits us from behind,
The red hatchback looming in front.
The window shattering,
And my own cry in my ears.

Age nine, I turn around,
The huge retriever is barreling straight at me.
A knife in my knee as he connects
And a crack in the bone forms.
He's licking my face as I lie there,
As if saying "I'm so sorry! Please forgive me!"

Age eleven, we're going to Hawaii tomorrow.
Mom woke up with her heart racing out of control,
And went to the hospital.
Sitting on a green plastic octopus
In a corner of the playground,
With eucalyptus trees behind me,
I open my blue lunchbox to find a pink Post-It
Mom's fine, Hawaii's on.

Age twelve, one of my teammates
Fouled right in front of the goal.
The ref lines up the ball,
Number six smirks at me.
Don't look at her feet, watch the ball…
It soars to my right, I run and jump…
And land in the mud, hugging it to my chest.

Age thirteen, I'm sitting in Algebra class.
Front row, left side of the room, fourth period
Mindy gives me a beautifully done drawing
Of a Dragon and a Pegasus fighting.
I stare at it for most of the period before
Taking out a pencil
And I begin to write my first story.

Age fifteen, on the mission's trip,
We're building decks and I bent a nail.
I'm trying to get it out, but it's stuck.
I move to sit on my knees instead
And I jerk the hammer—SNAP
The handle just broke.

Age sixteen, I'm jumping on an ex-racehorse.
My heels aren't down and I lose both stirrups
I slip down his right side and realize
That if I let go now, I probably
Won't end up under his feet.
My shoulder slams into the dirt,
My feet flip over my head and hit the fence.
So that's why she makes us wear helmets…

Each of these memories
Will always be part of me because
Each is a lesson,
Might have been a terror,
Maybe a happiness.
Or perhaps just a passive observance.

I tell people who I am
But these memories tell me who I am.
The girl who's dog broke her leg,
The girl who loves Hawaii.
The girl who broke a hammer,
The former goalie,
The horse lover,
The writer.