Sunday, February 25, 2007

These days, I am finding it increasingly hard to look at photographs of my Mum. I glance over them quickly, unable to allow myself to make the connection between who I see in the picture and the image I hold of her in my head. In so many more recent photos, she is sitting in the front room, tv on, her hair scraped back into a pony tail. She is smiling self-consciously. But the image in my head is of a moment caught forever in silence and stillness. It is a running video, but nothing is moving; it is a song without sound, a touch I can feel, but I don't know where the hand has gone.

The woman in the picture has gone and I don't understand what is left of her. I think of Sleeping Beauty with her rosy cheeks, ivory skin, eyes closed, spellbound to perpetual coma. I see only a haze of white - white sheets, white pillows, the white of her eye, white nightdress with a satin ribbon at the neck. I want to immerse myself in snowdrops. I want to course the ice floes, stretch myself out on a glacier, breathe it in deep. I want only cloud and a sun behind it that never sets. I want to be pale as a baby wrapped in its first blanket.

From the whiteness, red creeps in. Blood circles in my hands and arms, and begs these legs of mine to run. Run to the equator, to where time zones collide, imprint a map of the world upon my skull, forage amongst the insects and the beetles for a taste of life itself, curse the sky and ride a westward thunder, laughing. Blood follows me wherever I go. I cannot evaporate into ether, nor disappear into silence. Blood keeps me feeling, remembering I am flesh and bone, skin and longing. Angels inhabit my tender places, they haunt my dreams with their whiteness and their singing, but it's the bloody hand that keeps me here, that keeps me in the running.

I won't lie frozen for an eternity until I am kissed by a prince with black hair and a sword. But I will watch my mother, in her own world now, in a world of whiteness far beyond my reaches. And there will never come a day when I won't crave her touch again, to see the redness in her cheeks, for her lips to come back to life and speak. Blood still runs through her, though it is silent. She stares out of the window, at what, I can't know. It is then that the snows fall on me again, as I remember the belly I came from, the mess and spill that fell out with me, the cord that kept me attached until it was cut, my first cry into her breast and the red fist I raised at the world as I realised, in utter joy and horror, that I was alive.

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