Phillip Sterling

Memory Play

When we visit my family in Detroit on holidays we have to sit through old home movies. My wife sees me as a young boy, and I make a fool out of myself the same way every time. Here I am playing “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog” on a Mickey Mouse guitar. I vaguely remember it. Here I am about to smash the picture tube of a 1951 RCA television with my wooden hammer. I never get to do it; the film stops as I raise my arm. My wife always laughs at that point, but I’d like to know what happens next. I’d prefer not to consider myself a thoughtless child. At the same time, some things I don’t remember doing I’ve seen so often that I’m convinced it must be me; my earliest recollection is something I’ve seen myself do. Or something someone told me I did. The hammer, the story goes, was removed at the last second by my father, who let go of the camera to do it. This is the reason for my incomplete childhood.

Phillip Sterling’s most recent books include Amateur Husbandry, a series of micro-fictions narrated by the domestic partner of a yellow horse (Mayapple 2019) and Short on Days, a series of February aubades, released from Main Street Rag in June 2020.



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