It was the crispness of the sweater that made me stop. Folded firmly, it was starched with the wind and the sun of the country it was dried in. Australia. I pushed it up to my face and breathed in deeply. Just the stale scent of the plane remained, not the detergent she used to wash it. But it was enough, it was enough. I placed it over my face and let my head drop back as the memories of the trip washed up through my senses.
Inhale. Long flights and airport reunions. Exhale. Her bedroom in that little apartment, his dirty dungarees and white ponytail past the door. The curtain-sifted light in her room and the darkness sitting, brooding in the corners. Inhale. The wind, the constant wind around the house, through the windows, playing tag with the screen door. Exhale. Arguments. Speed-walking through pale, yellow brick streets under a muggy grey sky. And quiet conversations in the dusk; thoughts waiting on pillows.
There were times before, and after, but I barely remember the ones in between. There weren’t enough of them.
There was the time we walked home from the store and saw a striped grey kitten in an abandoned lot. It followed us home and my mother didn’t want to keep it. But I kept it anyways. It ate smelly food and I named it Skittles. I never asked how she felt when I insisted on taking it for a walk to the line of stores we called downtown. That was before, when my mother still had her adventures.
The last time you looked at me
was the last time you opened your eyes.
I sat around for hours
or maybe years
waiting because I couldn’t leave the room.
There are things down there that you would never expect. There are things down there that you would never believe existed. Long-forgotten treasures, diamonds and gems, covered with a thick layer of grime and something else. Memory. A shipful of greasy shapes and fluid memories lounge comfortably on the bottom of some far away place.