Here and Now

local_library Here and Now

by Sandra Norsen

Published in Issue No. 227 ~ April, 2016

I was there, but now

I am here:

here with the ghosts and photos

of girlfriends past;

here with a molting reindeer hide

draped over the dead uncle’s leather chair;

here in bed wearing knitted socks

and a woolen jumper

(or should I say ‘sweater’ because,

after all, I am here now),

rugged up against the Spring chill.

I am here

in an old woman’s house,

my sons

asleep in her bedroom,

asleep in her office,

their Lego bases

guarding filing cabinets

and broken antique furniture.

I am here in the fold-out bed,

temporarily alone

(having lost the toss

to a VW bus and the call of the wild)

in the ‘granny flat’

while granny sleeps with the old folks

in the home.

I am here

with ancient bluebells

crowding in as thick as weeds;

here drinking an old woman’s

nasty wine, knee-deep

in the carcasses of carpenter ants.

I am here with nothing for company

but an out-of-tune banjo

and several statues of Buddha;

here with the straw hat from Guatemala,

a boomerang or two,

and the tea-towel map of the London Underground.

I am here, but still arriving,

still unfurling into memories of here.

I want a book shop coffee.

I want to watch men throw fish.

I want to flatten a penny

and watch otters scamper across damp sand.

I want to eat the cinnamon rolls

and smoked salmon we found

on the reservation where

the bare-chested werewolves live,

and build a driftwood fort

right on the beach

amongst the clattering pebbles.

I want Vashon

and the moldy pink palace

(it’s not like anyone else ever goes there),

and I want the dead uncle’s water wheel

to stay in the stream,

and fuck the salmon!

They have better places to

go and die, don’t they?

And now

I am thinking about

the old woman –

all tattered skin and faded flavour –

and I wonder if she is dying,

and if she is,

would she rather be here?

I don’t mean here where I am

(although I suppose she would),

but here where we all are –

or would she prefer to leave here

and go

somewhere else?

We can’t know

and I’m not sure she knows much anymore,

so why even think about it?

Her memories are all at sea

while she struggles to scrape

against the flow,

dodging rocks and bears’ teeth,

seeking release.

Meanwhile

we plant trees

she can no longer pull out

when we leave,

and I take down her pictures,

rip out clumps of bluebells,

and spill coffee on the white carpet.

Wherever she is heading,

I have made it back here,

and I think this time

I may stay awhile.