We Meet Within

Inside my head is a space where the dead come to speak. The broken chair takes its place again at the head of the stairs and my father wears his mustard coloured jack shirt. Aunty Nance smears lipstick onto a glass of beer, skinny and stooped in her black and white Indian skirt, a belt made from plaited pantyhose. In my dreams and in daylight they appear, out of the past, not rigid as in photo- graphs but fluid again – it takes a mere word or whiff to meet them, unchanged, to hear the nuance of voice or lilt of laugh.

A dead friend is like an old school book which taught me so much but now I can’t understand the notes in the margin. A dead friend’s voice is a record that spent a summer on the dash-board, the music strangely warped yet familiar. That taste. That second of clarity, enough to trigger memory. The lime glimmer of Golden Elm conjures my father’s weighty arm on my small shoulder as we stand on the rung of a neighbour’s fence looking over into a black bird’s nest, small mouths opening like origami.

When the fireside cat arches her back, hackles erect and ears flat – eyes burning holes past the realm of my human vision, a chill of breeze ruffles curtains: feint scent of pipe-smoke and almonds. The crouching cat growls, the light shade swings softly on its frayed cord – and you can’t tell me that Uncle Max didn’t just walk through the door.

Also by Jude Aquilina

My Favourite Blue Movie
Next to Godliness
Lone Road Trip