• Cory Howell

Memories That Aren't Mine (I)



Sandy gravel crunches under my feet.


My throat is scratchy, my joints swollen from the dry. The change in climate makes me feel like an intruder, and I want to do something to feel connected to this place.


I kneel and grasp a handful of the desert. It’s warm and hard against my skin. It falls through my fingers.


I stand back to full height, and squint at the rock and sagebrush that stretch to the mountains in the distance.



Who am I to talk about the concentration camps?


My family was incarcerated in Poston, Arizona during World War II, but I’m acutely aware that this isn’t my story, that I don’t have the right words for it.


I only have memories that aren’t mine.

Some of the ruins still stand.


A broken down elementary school sits behind a chain link fence. A skeletal barracks is there behind the local Baptist church.


But it's mostly been torn down.


My grandparents arrived in November, almost a year after the war started. They only had what they could carry--they lost the house, the farm, most of their possessions.


It was so cold that first desert night, they couldn't sleep.


When I come to Poston, and I see the openness, the miles of nothing, the massive blue sky, I get a feeling.


I wonder what they felt, if it was the same thing I feel now.