Is This How it Happens?
He drove down to the Tobacconist to buy her some cigs.
There was someone new there today.
Yes? he was asked.
That’s when it happened.
20, 20 …..It’ll come to me in a minute.
But it didn’t.
He had forgotten the mantra. The words that come one after the other. He had forgotten the first word. If he knew that, the rest would come.
He had to drive back home and ask.
What an idiot, he thought.
It wasn’t as bad as forgetting the groceries in the shopping trolley then driving off without them.
That was ten years ago.
But it wasn’t good.
She told him.
Then he drove back and said it: 20 Classic Gold Signature, thanks, Red.
It felt good like rattling off a formula for the chemistry teacher in Year 12. Or a soliloquy from Hamlet.
He was on top of things again.
I sometimes wonder who he was, that man who called at our place a few years after dad had died and mum had moved into a nursing home.
Did mum have a secret life?
We all need someone or something to keep us afloat.
I liked you had an electric blanket, he said.
I really warmed to that. I liked too
you had a back yard big as a beach
and that waves of love flowed through you.
back then; I liked how we took barefoot walks
along the sand on summer night, the stars
fiery with desire, the hot kisses, but memory
tends to polish things up. to add a gleam
that wasn’t always there;
the cat never took to me and in the end you
didn’t take to me either; our little edifice of love
smashed like a sandcastle by the waves
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?