On my desk is a photograph of you taken by the woman who loved you then. In some photos her shadow falls in the foreground. In this one, her body is not that far from yours. Did you hold your head that way because she loved it? She is not invisible, not my enemy, nor even the past. I think I love the things she loved. Of all your old photographs, I wanted this one for its becoming. I think you were starting to turn your head a little, your eyes looking slightly to the side. Was this the beginning of leaving?
Green pincushion proteas grow in my memory, swaying faintly in today’s wind. Memory snags me through the pink pincushions I bought this morning from the auntie in the doek by the Kwikspar who added a king protea to the bunch, all spikes and pins in reds and maroons, so regal that as a child I didn’t know they were alive and did not water them. My mother’s remembering remembers them into me. Do you remember, she asks, and then I do, green pincushion proteas this small? She slowly makes her fingers turn and bloom green flowers the size of large coins that we found here among the rocks and grey sand under tall trees unnameable in memory, reaching their roots into the house’s foundations, subtle threads stretching closer and closer. All tangles and snaggings and swayings, green pincushion proteas prick into my mind, thicken themselves stitch by stitch into a place that was not, but is again. The grey sand of memory now fervent with colour, green blooms clamber over the rockery and we, who did not know their beginnings, move them to another part of the garden, and they withdraw, and then withdraw from memory until now, a new species of green blossoming and unmoved. They died, she recalls. They don’t like their roots to be moved. Do you remember, she asks, and the green coins bud into the first bush long preceding us, and careless we wrench them from their original rocks and they die a little and then fully. Why did we move them to another place, we, who were removed to here? Do you remember, she asks.