That's where you'll find me...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Down the Garden Path

Opening the front door takes two hands and what little strength remains in my legs and arms. Over the years it seems I'm fading with the wallpaper, sinking beneath a century of dust. Everything within this house is in hibernation, yet outside...
These rare sounds. The pained yielding of wood and rusted hinges. Then the cacophony of crazed insects multiplying and devouring each other. The spill of burning sunlight casts my lank shadow down the length of the hall as I toppled blindly down the steps. A crow sighs in exasperation from the bare branches of an apple tree. It is one of thousands guarding this house - old ladies with knitting needles wilting with age and heat, their hair fallen out. I wish I had the water to breathe new life into them. Plump them up. The smell of blossoms is a lost memory now. I can still see them though, raining after season and gleaming in the sunrise. The hue of my mother's lipstick in the afternoons. She remained calm in her colour until the strike of seven, then she was scarlet and wound up in ribbons. I had no such things to keep me caught. I learnt how to disappear as soon as I could read the predatory movements of that pride of men, starved by war. Their teeth bared as she walked the tightrope above them, all figure and wit and desperate for their adoration.
My mother knee deep in things silently living was a rare sight.

I walk to the outhouse amidst swarming anthills. Crunching through the grass and staring into the cracks in the soil. The weatherboard hut has a precarious lean and its skin is sloughing off. The tap stopped dripping months ago and the jam jar I once used to collect water has rings of evaporation lining its girth. I struggle with the rusted tap to eke out a dribble to cool the glass. A painful vessel but it's the only one I have.
There is nothing living to feast on anymore. But there is a dragonfly I've had my eye on. A worthy pursuit. We've been watching each other for days now from a distance. He's been teasing me with the flashes from his wings. Quite dazzling to a creature of the dark like me. As he dances around the hut stretching time, I bide mine. Rest on the pile of rotting logs by the door, little one... I was blessed with both stillness and light quickness. The arc of my arm is swift in it's capture and he finds himself surprised, encased in thick glass. He is brilliantly magnified. And he sits still, admiring himself no doubt.

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