An electrical flash,
Synapses gather and
Feathery Dendrites reach out
bringing memories fluttering into life.
Some clear, others are fragmented with time.
I prefer the simile
of yellowed pages in a book,
every page marked with a dried flower.
Picking up this crumbling, treasured memory
with gloved hands, I hold it close
for its colour has faded and
the scent has almost gone.
On a day long ago a country lane winds and dips,
then shimmers into view.
Sitting high above the world on my father’s shoulders
I gaze over unkempt hedges at the Irish Sea.
To me it stretches forever.
Seagulls sail on the wind above the cliff,
dodging and swooping, diving and squawking.
My sister runs ahead clutching
our bag of sandwiches to her chest
and calls out,
‘Look Daddy, look at the gulls.’
One hovers for a moment, head cocked
and I see its avaricious eye.
I know gulls eat jam and bread.
Colours, the sun shines on my mother’s auburn hair;
it reminds me of new pennies. She’s smiling.
The silver of his hair, he’s happy, laughing
as he talks of when he ran here as a boy.
Emerald grass covers rolling pastures,
flecked with white sheep.
The dark grey sea whispers its mysteries to me.
And the watery blue sky hints at summer coming
to a close.
Smells, hair dressing, clean sweat, flowers
in the fields. The crisp tang of salt air, all add to
the memory. This is no will ‘o the wisp remembrance,
this is golden. A snapshot of the perfect family and
like an advert on television, it’s an illusion.
I’ll accept the misconception.
I have to keep it alive.
If I don’t I’ll forget my sister at her happiest.
I can still see her running through those fields, singing
with delight, her long curls bouncing as she twirls and dances.
Falling to the ground she grasps a handful
of Buttercups and races back to hand them out.
We take them and smile, he puts me down and we sit
on the grass overlooking the sea and sand far below.
The sandwiches are soon gone,
washed down with a bottle of warm tap water.
There are only crumbs for the gulls to fight over.
I look at my father.
He’ll be leaving soon, the sea calls him.
I’ll miss him and I won’t.
My sister and I sit and make chains out of the flowers,
she wears a crown of them in her hair.
I watch him stare at her and know that look.
She was beautiful and I? I was jealous.
After all don’t fathers have their favourites?
I wipe away the tears and place the faded Buttercup
back in between the pages. It’s been there for so long
that it’s left a faint impression on the page.
Will it remain forever?
So that when I’m old and the pages become harder
to turn, I can bring up its image and dream again of hungry gulls
and a smiling happy girl.
Laurie Smith© 2013