I drove through my childhood this afternoon past the street I used to ride up and
down and it all came back to me the feelings so familiar but different somehow a different flavour mint-flavoured Magnum by the river where I first realised water was alive and where the ambulance had to drive that one time at 3am in the
morning the house looked the same in its new coat but the garden was different I once was quiet watching the firefighters in the winter blaze through binoculars
and I drove on through feeling more adult by action but more child by my nostalgic spirit
Feet touch soil so silent but still sound. Vines and trying times creep and grow around his weary ankles and up his legs anchoring him back to dust. He waits in hope that roses will grow a crown upon his head.
His eyes are closed now: he is expansive in his mind only; at peace down those ten steps into his own little Paradise.
Panicked anxiety soaking deep into the classroom carpet on day one: ‘Hi!’ ‘Hello!’ ‘Who are you?’ Who am I? Spider-Man watch’d; shaved hair. I’ve closed the door tightly and bolted up my self: please don’t, please don’t please don’t. The smell of plastic covers and freshly printed cover pages, and Pritt glue – 40g – the big one, an acrid cloud filling the room: a smell that brings me back – still.
No one to play with, but my shivering shadow, day in and out – wave to the metallic blue Citroën each morning from Mrs Peterson’s window. Maybe today the sunshine of friendship can soak up the damp carpet.
Hold on for just an hour longer, my Friend. I miss you already and the way your eyes smiled at life even though I know it isn’t easy. Please put down those pills so sombre in your shaking hands and walk with me down the street. I love you enough to care in these riptides of sorrow and strife, and I just need to hug you, for you more than for me this time. Don’t write that note much stronger, call me and let’s go on that trip we always spoke of. In my head the tenses are confused because you still are to me: not was.
Hold on for just an hour longer: please put down those pills so sombre; don’t write that note much stronger. Because you still are to me.
High, dry memory throws up:
a tying of knots in a tent in a house
(which reminds me of music in grade 3
and Mrs Whatsherface with the immovable hair).
Moments of wander (or is it wonder?)
sprinkle my memory like some hopeful
seeds scattered in the zephyrs of tomorrow.
“These moment will haunt you later in life!”
a voice whispered then, which only reached me now.
(I really do not know if I’ll ever feel this moment again).
But blackjacks appear out of nowhere
(yes, that’s what we called them!
they stuck to our socks and pants
like memories we don’t want)
and suddenly I’m back:
waiting for my Dad to drive away,
with a heavy feeling inside my tummy I didn’t understand
(until I studied Psychology much later on).
Or that time, etched in black trauma,
of being betrayed for believing someone’s pain
or trying my best but not succeeding.
Gentle, gentle, over the top, boys, mighty Gentleman!
You know not what lies ahead.
My soul is dressed in black today
as I attended another one
and my anxiety is back
(I can feel its kneeding in my chest)
and I’m blinking to keep away tears.
It’s a dusky dawn of drain,
my thoughts of care just a stain.
I walk around mute
but it’s loud inside my mind
with thoughts of this and that
how maybe I said something wrong
or didn’t do enough
(despite knowing I did more).
But I lower another one
into the cold, hard soil of memory:
Rest in peace, what never was.
Rest in peace.
So who doesn’t have time now?
Amid the pandemic.
Alongside the hours:
bodies moving slowly
in small spaces
going in circles
like second hands
on a weathered clock
hanging on wallpapered concrete.
“When I have time,
we can make plans.”
“Hello, can I help you?”
“Hi, yes. I’m looking for…”