and i think of the dawn above augusta
sunrise obscured by cloud
our minds sliding straight to the easy distance of antarctica.
disappointment in the greyness disappears with rising birdsong
and sextants of light measure themselves against the inlet.
and i think how again again we would return
and never in that time lose touch with beauty.
you asked about mama only once. whose memory we’ve known
hasn’t been cutting-edge for a while, but whose memory
might never get better now. dementia, i repeat (as she does) dementia.
and dementia is like a slowly-opening tear in some fabric mama or grandma
might sew. the two parts of a brain, in this context at least, (those being
the past or memory and then of course the present or now) gradually separating,
quite bewilderingly it seems. the sufferer (the demented?) and those around
them (the demented) angry or really sad or even guilty. stricken by whatifs. but
that is nothing to the fear of the person with the illness. it creeps and sneaks and
then the guillotine. Mama’s handwriting decline scares her and papa tells her
no i won’t repeat it you should have written it down but she has and just
wanted clarification. or jesus you should be ashamed because i’m visiting
and have to finish cooking dinner because she has filled all the pots
but doesn’t know with what. and there is decline in overall cognitive
ability with more gaps total but the silk tears too and tears fall easy.
soon stories of memoryfamily are easier to recall than what in the name of
was i doing? but i sit with her and The Sky Runs Right Through Us by
the estuary. she, in this place of mostly memory, with focus and calm and
mirrorwater moments, constructs novel readings and says the word incongruous
with only a little time in the recall, so the present re-threads a little. she stands
and points and we yell SHIP AHOY to a catamaran cutting south and we wave
our arms and i’m a little self-conscious for less than a moment because WE LAUGH
oh we do. until the kangaroos appear with the big boomer and she is
shocked back to confusion and a little fear. and worries that she should be
cleaning or cooking so edges by the razor- reeds and steps again inside to move
papers back and forth and write shaky dinnerplans in smudged pencil.
and i feel the sting of memory also, of when i would tease aunty j, mama’s
sister, who had alzheimer’s. she was ten years older than mama and the
family brought her over from Melbourne when she was diagnosed. she
would come to birthdays or Christmas from her (fancy but bleach-scented
nonetheless) nursing home and we’d give presents. i’d say happy birthday
many times and she would always reply is it my birthday? and the
table would chuckle but also tell me to stop. and i wish i had. because for
aunty j the rip was widening and the two minds splitting such that she
remembered the names of her Melbourne cats but not her carers and,
suddenly, not even Mama. because she didn’t know her as this dignified
silver-haired old lady, but only then as a child and young woman
in photographs she was shown to remind her that i’m rosemary don’t
you remember? and then she had a stroke and her minds tore
entirely, and Mama’s a little more. and dementia is such that,
eventually, it’s all (and less) past and no now.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones