‘Have a look at this’. My father swayed, the
living room a trench of obstacles, and
wove string-ball to his cane chair and sat laptopped.
‘Have a look at these’. I waited and counted as
his deliberate hand moused the cursor to
catch his eye to check the box to open the photos.
‘These are Loch Awe’, and they were, his old slides scanned to jaypeg
in the old colours of those post-war posters, now hardened to blue, showing
grey water, thistle-down picnics, lost islands,
thick-rimmed glasses, corduroy trousers,
small boys, a baby sister and their mother.
‘I don’t recognise her’.
It was a tremble – my father, her husband, his words; and I didn’t either.
She crouched behind us, a sapling with
branches enough to lap our shoulders; and there she sits
on a foreshore, marooned and smiling, a Scottish
summer clouding the horizon; and now she stands on the grass,
young and tinted with age.
I remember Loch Awe, it was a
midge-soaked, rain-clouded black straight
with log-pebbled, rug-flung foreshores.
But the pictures had warped;
we were all there, all of us,
in those places and in those clothes,
and she always knelt like that and stood that way:
on the rug, behind, pulling us back.
But her face was changed.
It was impish, caught, shining.
It was screwed-up and lit, her hair running lightly in the wind.
I knew it gym and lacrosse, walks in autumn; I knew it scent and voice.
I wish I had looked at her as a child.
To balance her eyes with the
touch of my hair,
the shape of her cheeks
with the hand on my arm.
But there I am, an imp myself, and that is faraway.