First Memory

Standing on the warm beach,

Curling my toes into grainy sand.

Grandparents stand like bookends;

I am the precious book they hold.

Closing my eyes, I breathe the salty air,

 Blue-meets-blue horizon before me

And a lone gull floating high above me –

I wish I could be that gull and never leave.

The waves roll in and out, in and out,

Pulsating rhythms that beat like my heart.

The water stains the sand a dark beige color.

Foamy-fingered waves continue their waltz.

My grandparents smile at me, and I sing out to them,

“It’s so beautiful…it’s so very beautiful!”    

I catch my breath as the wonder of it all

Wraps around me like a warm blanket.

This poem is about my earliest memory. I was just five years old when my grandparents took me to Atlantic City for a weekend. We stayed at the Knights of Columbus Hotel on the corner of Pacific Ave and St. James Place. We were just a block from the beach. I will always remember seeing the ocean for the first time. I still feel that magic every time I return. First memories are wonderful to record. Think back to your earliest memory.  Make sure you find one that is your own and not just a little anecdote you know so well because your grandma told you over and over again.  That’s her memory – not yours!

  • Think about the place, the person, the event, or the object that brings that memory to life.
  • Now associate as many senses with the memory as you can – you may only have two senses – keep your writing honest!
  • What emotion can you strongly anchor to this memory?
  • Write about the first memory.  Remember, you are writing a notebook entry and not an entire draft.
  • You can write about important early memories on other days. Remember to think about emotions and senses.
  • As you return to your notebook during writer’s workshop, you could consider writing a personal narrative/memoir about one of your memories.
  • As you share entries with your response group, respond by noticing the senses, the emotions, where the writer used show not tell, or any other special quality you happen to notice.