Books always marked our games somehow. The passage of time. Growing up the house was (always) filled with books.
A flower blossoms in her hair (my sister, Joyce). Red flowers bloom in my haunted, aching heart. Hold my hand, will you please just hold me.
Love me, love me, love me but Joyce danced away from me. Out of my reach. I’m afraid of what I am going to find at the end of the world. Will it be infirmity after the closure of desire of youth? Euphoria winking at me like an oyster. I have a vision of the elderly version of me eating soft, warm apple, crumble breaking up into enchanting sweetness in my mouth. In this version of me I don’t belong to the world at large anymore. What was once ‘my oyster’ is perhaps no longer? The sea meets the world in her (Joyce’s) eyes. The same brown eyes that we’ve inherited from our parents. The same colour as mine. We’ve shared everything and nothing at the same time with each other since childhood. I long for the nearness of her but she lives in another city. Could be another country for all that it mattered? She is as determined to me as Jonah’s whale.
There’s perfume behind her smile. Its smell is intoxicating. Joyce does not know this that she is my angelic conjured up myth. She has always been crucial to my development. Suffering ends and begins with her each day. She is mine. Star my eye to the telescope. She’s the ghost of a childhood view.
Joyce is a chapter that has come to an end. In her world (Alice was a stranger) I, Alice was always the stranger.
One day perhaps I’ll set up a house with a man and together we’ll raise a tribe of sons and daughters and then finally I’ll be called the two most sacred words in the English language. ‘Mother’ and ‘wife’.
And then, perhaps then the onion layers of sadness will leave me.
I’ll make the children wear hand me downs. Frog march them to church on Sunday mornings. Prepare a roast with all the trimmings (vegetables, potatoes swimming in a gravy boat) for lunch. I’ll introduce the children to reading Rilke, Goethe, and Hemingway. The girls to the poetry of Fleur Adcock, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath.
I’ll French braid my daughters’ hair. Read them bedtime stories. Sing them lullabies. I will make them eat their broccoli. Make them eat healthily. These children will inherit my dark brown hair falling into their eyes, framing their face. They will have my brown eyes in their genes.
I will tell the children not to try and hungrily lick the patterns of flowers off their plates.
The boys will have their father’s build. They’ll be lean with sturdy limbs. They (the children) will grow into salt of the earth young women and men. To the girl I was before. I am there with you always in my letters home. Every morning Gertrude, my father’s other half, my mother, would raise up the sun.
Her body is in the wild wilderness of her garden. Her thinking celestial. ‘My boys’ will digest the Hardy Boys. I’ll teach them young. I’ll teach them how to love the independent woman of today. The girls will feast on Nancy Drew. After that they’ll graduate to Virginia Woolf. Yes, of course I’ll introduce them all to poetry.
Whenever I think of Gertrude, my mother, I think of a garden. Every woman has a garden. Real or imagined.
It is a new winter collaborating with trains, buses, cars, foot traffic, and transport. I know about thirst. Loss is nothing new. Here’s a drawing of a map. Autumn leaves cast off in this mud season but that is not where my story begins. With Alice the writer.