I gave chase to another visitation in the half-light. My mother’s shadow stepped out from the curtain; a raven-winged bump in the night. Nothing untoward, it may have been my earnest mind mirrored in a fool’s paradise. A phantasm in a flight of fancy, I dogged her footsteps, regardless, in my mind’s eye.
A favoured setting; back at the old house. In her bedroom; my father’s 1950’s lacquered cortege, a painful heirloom. The bed set like an anchor in a sea of linen. She was changing, I was searching, both hurting. The pair of us knew where she was; an apparition in phantasmagoria. A mirage in my submerged clairvoyance, relinquished.
Seated beside me, she lay open her scars; divulging enigmatic messages like stars, imparting prudence, shaking bewildered skeletons from her ottoman in penance. Some wounds bridge space and time, redressing the balance is an arduous climb. She is evoked as long as I rub the lamp; wear my wishing-cap straight, and never askant.
Stepping lightly, I broached the subject…’Mum, I don’t understand some things. When you were suffering I was paralysed, a feebled-shook-witness.’ She looked at me awkwardly, ‘I can’t talk to you about that love.’ She went by the book but she didn’t tell me which book, a fortune-teller sworn not to tell.
She hungered to show herself, to offer peace of mind to me. Jumping through hoops, she had them agree. Her Samson soul would say, ‘There are more important things to life kiddo. The remedy was worse than the disease, so please, be your own alchemist.’
Under the watchful canopy of home the attic is a sky-parloured cranium. Arching rafters crib life-cycles, orbited and compassed in variegated shades, chronologically archived by my father. Cathedralled high in consecutive shrines, epochs upon epochs of time-eaten codes to crack. Unkempt allotments of crops run to seed, when nurturing fingers are hidden in pockets, held back.
I wade through submerged decks, gang-planked in lintels. Shreds of daylight punctuate vaulted gables, conjuring a forest floor beneath me. I know this landscape by night. I prowl quiet as a fox, among crackling leaves and trees spined high. No one gains on me in this neck of the woods; sylvan territory is my natural-born hermitage.
You fail to remember the treacherous beams underfoot, shrouded by bleary eyes, but I don’t. My memory X-rays the ground. I shine a torch but the light only tinsels a line. Guttering dusty featherweight beacons, it quarries out finely drawn time. Columns and pilasters dissolve in cold veils of darkness behind.
My former lives consigned to oblivion for decades, wrapped out of reach amongst cargo-bayed artefacts; filed away under sections in faded hues of peerless value. Years have travelled silently, tombed in this mourner’s seat, held high at an altitude into an arcing meridian heat. A patchwork scrapbook trodden with crow’s feet floats on still waters under a perennial bridge.
Washed up by the rivers of time, I hear my mother say; ‘We all have to die someday’. She tells me to remember and to forget the elegant essences roosting here, inelegances to regret. From birth we start a treasury of life, deposited, catalogued, and indexed in wealth, to soften the rasping of grief, in our stealth.
Garlands shelved to be worn by and by, at the hands of followers crouched in an unsung chamber. Bowing and curtsying along pontooned trestles in a scaffolded watchtower. My father’s spirit holds a glittering searchlight, to the fragile timber tightroped. He does everything to help me, with the whole of his heart, he’s invoked.
Jan Bradley © 2010