Before, this box contained my mother. For months she'd sent me out for index cards, scribbled with a squirrel concentration while I'd nag at her, seeing strength drain, ink-blue, from her finger-ends providing for a string of hard winters I was trying not to understand.
Only after, opening it, I saw how she'd rendered herself down from flesh to paper, alphabetical; there for me in every way she could anticipate
- Acupuncture: conditions suited to - Books to read by age twenty-one - Choux pastry: how to make, when to use
The cards looked after me. I'd shuffle them to almost hear her speak. Then, the world was box-shaped (or was I playing safe?) for every doubt or choice, a card that fitted
- Exams: the best revision strategy - Flowers: cut, how to make them last - Greece: the men, what you need to know
But then they seemed to shrink. I'd turn them over, find them blank; the edges furred, mute, whole areas wrong, or missing. Had she known?
The language pointed to what wasn't said. I'd add notes of my own, strange beside her urgent dogmatism,
loosening grip infinitives never telling love lust single issue politics when don't hopeless careful trust
On the beach, I built a hollow cairn, tipped in the cards. Then I let her go. The smoke rose thin and clear, slowly blurred. I've kept the box for diaries, like this.