Posted on July 4, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair7.4.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Jacques Henri Lartigue July 4, 2014: How I remember her. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Mama with her hair pinned up and loose flying whispers the colour of straw falling across her cheek, and her arms thin as broom handles and raised to the stick-em-up sky, and she’s pegging out sheets on the line, the fierce yellow sun behind her so I can see her shadow through the billowing wet cloth and it is like she is made of clouds or air.
Bees fizzing like slow-burning fireworks, like sparklers stopping and starting, and flowers all colours and all places, and butterflies panting for breath, and meadow grass tall as I am, and summer-visiting swallows cutting dizzy shapes out of the overhead sky, and mama singing.
‘Again mama, sing it again, the one about rings on her fingers and bells on her toes.’
And mama behind the perfect white of a clean sheet moving like she’s dancing and singing sweet as honey or white sugar, and singing it again and again for Christy. And Christy’s laughing, and she’s dancing, too, and turning cartwheels on the grass and falling, folded and crumpled like cloth. And mama laughing then and saying how she’s to be careful now, Christy’s to be careful, and that’s how I remember her.
I want to recall the colour of mama’s eyes. I think they were blue, but I am not sure. And the shape of her lips, I want to remember that too, and the taste of her kisses and the feel of her arms about me, her fingers touching my back soft as feathers or tight as never-letting-go. But it is the made-of-clouds mama I recall and the shape of her thrown onto the cloth and her laughing from behind the sun or singing.
‘Tell me,’ says Christy. ‘Tell me about her.’
Christy’s memory is less than mine. Her memory is all the things I tell her and little else. She holds my hand and she closes her eyes and ‘Tell me,’ she says.
I tell Christy that mama was tall as the pantry door and she baked the best tasting bread and she had a scar on her forehead like a sickle moon and freckles across her nose and her breath was sweeter than strawberries and her walking was like dancing and how she liked to watch the garden grow and there was rings on all her fingers and bells on her toes and her laughing was like rain falling on a warm day.
‘What colour was her eyes?’ says Christy.
And I don’t know and I feel the pinch of anger at not knowing and there are no pictures to show me and da don’t ever say and I don’t dare ask him for that would be to say I had forgot.
‘Tell me,’ says Christy, and she’s breathless and pleading and her eyes still closed like I have a secret to show her and her fingers squeezing her hold of mine.
‘Mama’s eyes was as blue as the sky,’ I tell her. It’s what she wants to hear. ‘A burning blue they was, and flecked with the arcs of swallows and the sunlight in them.’
Then Christy laughs and she breaks free from my grasp and she turns a perfect easy cartwheel across the grass and I wish mama could see her now and how she’s growing, and Christy not sad that mama’s gone into the ground and sleeping and never waking. And Christy starts up singing then, just like mama sang, the same song and the same sugar-sweet lilting words, and if I close my eyes it could be mama singing, and so I think Christy does remember something, and that memory at least is true.