People who live here, he said, live with their backs to the sea.
And I said, how could anyone turn their backs to the sea?
And I thought of mum, before she was hauled away, saying,
I want to go back to the sea again,
how she sounded like Miranda the mermaid who had strayed
from her home
but when she got her wish, when we got her into a retirement home
on the esplanade, she grew jaded.
What’s wrong, mum? we asked.
I want to go home, she said. I want to go back where I lived with dad.
But you’ve got a ringside seat, mum, to the Southern Ocean. A view to die for.
It’s not the same, she said, not when you see the same thing day after day.
But we sat with her, watching the red sun sit on the lip of the horizon like a wafer,
the seabirds flying home, and a kind of calm settled on her.
I have just come back from the shopping centre, I wrote, ten years ago
and have discovered the boot empty. Where is all that food I bought?
Back in the trolley where I left it in the car park ready to heft into the boot.
An action I never completed. I dashed back to the shopping centre
but the trolley was gone. I had supplied a needy family, I like to think,
with a week’s supply of free food. In the end, I remembered.
My memory had rebooted. But what if it hadn’t? Would you even know
you had forgotten something if you had no memory of it?
Is this how it happens?
Stephanie was out in the garden, chasing chooks out of the vegetable patch. She was some way from us, out on the back porch, so I was surprised that she responded to something I said.
“Yes. I remember when …” and then her voice seemed to get swallowed up.
”What’s that?” I said.
But she stood there helplessly waving her hands as if signalling to us to disregard what she had to say and to carry on our conversation. We did and when my friend left, Stephanie came over and sat beside me.
“What happened out there?” I asked. “Out in the garden?”
“What I was about to say got swallowed up,” she said.
“Like in a sinkhole?” I said. They had been in the news lately.
“Like in a sinkhole.”
“It’s all right,” I said. “Tell me when you remember.”
My body alarms me.
It rings two or three times a night.
Who’s in charge here anyway?
Poetry flowed from me
Like water from a garden hose.
Days were diamonds.
My feet horses’ hooves.
Nothing defeated me.
I was sharp as Sherlock.
Prolific as Zola.
I had two hounds.
The wheels turn.
Accept, my friend tells me, Embrace.
Loss is gain.
Now is the new normal.