When my mother died a year ago, I was incapacitated with two broken arms and could not fly overseas to the funeral. I began to dictate flash memoir, a mix of prose poetry and flash story. By the time my hands could write again, I had collected bits and pieces of my story.
Helen’s amazing and historical story waits for sharing but I am not a lover of novel length writing. I have discovered the joy of writing memoir snippets and that will be how I share not only her story, but my Australian father’s story and eventually, my own extension of theirs.
I am still in the gathering process, finding snippets stuffed in an old shoe, another stuck inside a thesaurus or poetry text. It will take some time to find the gems and the not-so-gems. The culling process will be a brutal one after the gathering of the writings Gather first, rewrite next, send it through the intelligence of my on task critique group and rewrite again.
That’s a long, long process.
In the meantime, until I blog again in a month or two or three, here is one more piece I found for your perusal: a flash memoir possibly for the collection.
Thank you poet Jennifer Grant for your title suggestion: “Streaking through the Petunias”
Critiques, questions and comments are always welcome. Please let me know if you want to see further memoir snippets or not.
Hugs from Kaye
Today I scan my mother’s flat. A gold leaf, rustic tray, a china cup half-filled with tea, just a touch of cream, a matching plate decorated with tiny flying bluebirds, a slice of orange cake, half-eaten, ragged where her teeth left their imprint. The mahogany cabinet stares from a wall, a white Venus de Milo statue frozen, awaiting demise in a box: on the next shelf, a roman warrior, a Chinese vase fashioned with flecks of gold leaves on twisted brown vines, a small crystal bird with a broken wing—relics of a long life now useless in her new world. Toss out the vase, keep the bird, throw it out, keep it, keep something, keep it, toss it keep it toss it no keep that one
A few days before, she had breathed halting words down the phone—
“Why do I dream of white tunnels and stairs climbing into light?”
What hallways mother?
I knew then
I knew then
“Shadowed hallways, staircases jagged, steep, steep like a cliff face, steps carved into its side, steps with dark moss, but I can’t see the end, or where the steps lead, or who stands there, someone stands there, why, why the shadows, the terrible shadows, standing silent.”
I knew then
I knew then
Today, I turn to voices at the door of her flat.
Visitors, vulture beaks snapping
“It was such a shock.”
“She went so fast.”
“Your mother said I could have that painting.”
“She won’t be using those shoes anymore.”
“Don’t take her shoes,” I say. They carry her soul.
“She won’t need this red and black shawl.”
I grab the shawl from the hands of strangers. “She wears, no, I mean, she wore the shawl when she felt chilled, when the pain of separation grew too great, when her stomach ached, when my father didn’t return home, when her daughters stayed in America
the green clock with its grinding green hands ticks time.
Its sudden authoritative alarm s-c-r-e-a-m-s at me—SIX O’CLOCK — time for dinner, time to get dressed, time to measure out another evening in gefilte fish, challah bread, butter, jam, orange cake, tea, conversation alone.
I turn off my mother’s alarm for the last time.