While on the subject of elephants , I had a friend once we all called ‘2 ply’ because he was thick-skinned; he didn’t feel like the rest of us; things had to be intense to get through that extra layer but when they did, he felt and gave out generously. Some found him a little distant.
My mother had a saying, “I can forgive but not forget.” She was good at grudges. My uncle, who was the recipient on more than one occasion, said she carried a chip on her shoulder big as a butcher’s block.
My other uncle had elephantiasis. He was always adjusting himself in the groin area. It looked like he was playing with himself in public. He and auntie never had children. Some nights in adolescence I would lie awake and think about uncle and his swollen scrotum. I had a ghoulish fascination with enlarged body parts. Doesn’t everyone?
What’s the first word you’re going to forget? The first word that’s going to slip through the sieve in your brain?
The name of your partner, child, grandson?
With me it was an item of food.
A breakfast food we eat once a week on Wednesday. I knew it began with ‘c’ and that it was a French-sounding word like ‘croutons’ but it wasn’t that.
I could have asked my partner but I didn’t want to embarrass myself.
I did not want to acknowledge that ‘the forgetting’ had begun.
Then after a week it came to me in a flash, like the click of a thumb. I wrote it down on a pad with a marker pen just in case but I needn’t have bothered.
Now I enjoy my croissants that little bit more.
[written in 1986, the day before]
I will hold your hand
The comet passes over
And I will guide your young, young eyes
And show you its starry path
Across these Southern skies
“Look, that is the comet”
And you will stare in wonder with me
And perhaps we will never be
This close again.
And I will say,
“Look closely. One day when you
Are very, very old
You will tell your children what it was like
On this day”
And they will hold your hand
That day in 2061
And ask you,
“Did grandma and grandma see it with you?”
And you will shake
Your tired old eyes
Though we will long be dust
Like a comet’s tail.