The Flow begins…..

Posted: February 16, 2014 in memories

St Valentine’s Night _ Full Moon & Candlelight

my mother had written before to tell me she’d suffered a stroke _
it had been years since i’d heard from her and we never got on
but after a couple of days of thinking and feeling guilty about her letter
i wrote back_ asking her if i should come home

i was surprised by the speed of her reply_
of my children you are the only one still looking at the stars_ don’t turn back for me _
and she asked me if there was anything i needed

was she thinking and feeling more guilty than me?
Heaven knows she had good reason to feel bad
about all her children _
so i asked her for a typewriter
the buying and the international postage would help her feel better_ i thought

some weeks later Michalis our young postman
drove past the house in his Sherwood green pick-up
honking his horn as he went by _
this was the best he could do rather than stop on the impossible slope
his way of telling me to meet him in the village square
several hundred feet up the mountainside _

Michalis was always too taciturn for his young age
and lazy even by Greek standards
but he’d been more respectful of me since i’d told him off
not opening the postbox in the square for more than a month _
he’d lost the keys but i insisted he force the box there and then
and with a jemmy that i provided for him _
the bottom sprang open
and all the letters i’d written since Christina died
and all the coins i’d posted in the box for stamps
fell at our feet _
it was me_ not him_ who gathered them up
but i gave him an earful as i did it
then i handed him the pile of maybe twenty envelopes
and all the coins as well_ with a solemn glare

by the time i’d walked up the impossible slope
there were 6-7 locals and most of the children of the village
gathered around Michalis’ pick-up _
in the back was a large carton bearing a WH Smith logo
and the image of a typewriter that covered the whole top of the box _
after i’d explained to them why i needed something
as outlandish as a typewriter in our distant rural community
i realised it was the first time my neighbours
had been given the knowledge i was a writer _
several of the younger children followed me
as i carried the box down the hill to the house

the arrival of the typewriter changed the way the villagers dealt
with the ‘xenos’ who lived and worked with them _
and it changed the way i dealt with my mother as well _
from then on these mountain folk shared their lives with me
as though i was expected to make a record of them _
at weddings and wakes i would be caught in the gaze of this person
or the open stare of another_ looking at me meaningfully_
are you getting all this?  writer _
as collectively as when we ploughed together or harvested our various crops
they never hid their expectation of me

as for me_ i was so impressed by what my mother had done
i rushed to too many conclusions _
i took the presence of the typewriter
and my mother’s reference to not turning back
as evidence she had understood something of her son _
henceforth everything important i wrote
poetry_ notes_ the completed and edited chapters of half-written novels
i made certain to send my mother a copy of ‘everything important’

i never received any acknowledgment
not for the writing i sent her
nor the unagreed covenant i built between us _
in the following years my son and i moved so often
i felt more akin to the local gypsies
than the inhabitants of towns and hamlets in which we replanted ourselves _
and more and more i took it for granted
that i now had written copies with my mother _
this knowledge became the deciding factor
in what was taken or left behind as we moved on

it was more than a decade before i knocked on my mother’s door
to tell her i was back
introduce her to the teenage grandson she’d never met _
i asked her about all my writings and i apologised for encumbering her with so much
and i remember her cheerful reply_ as clear as a tolling bell
though i don’t recall very much of what happened straight after _
oh i never kept any of that
i did read some of it and i really liked it
did you want me to keep it for you?

in movies i’ve seen people standing in lines
desperate to withdraw their life-savings from a collapsing bank _
twice i’ve witnessed the same thing in real life as well
the shock in those eyes is palpable
everything they thought they had tucked away safely
has suddenly gone

my mother
certainly has much she should be ashamed of in her life
but not this _
this was solely my own conceit
groundlessly contrived during ‘the years of travel’
because it was most convenient
to shoulder that responsibility onto someone else

be that as it may_ it took me at least two years
to recover from my sense of loss



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