Preparation begins by heating the stones. Next, lay the food down cover with earth and leave for many hours.

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I found a lump. Sounds innocuous when you say it like that. It was about the size of a pea. Really, it was. Small. Hard. Painless. I was sitting watching telly with my boys and my hand was resting under my armpit as I massaged my sore muscles from the day’s swim.

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Agnes’ pa used to embarrass her. Even in ICU he embarrassed her—the scent of unwashed hair and old cigarettes, the tatts from his navy days and the answers she had to give the organ donation nurses. They couldn’t use his organs in the end but she kept his handprints and locks of hair in a sealed envelope, a tangible memory in shades of black, white and grey.

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They say my mourning has gone on long enough. Those people who never came and sat beside your bed while your life slowly slipped away. Those people who use their words as though there was some poetry in your death.

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Driving to the beach the other day, you were in the car beside me and it made me happy. I was talking to you and you were smiling. I made up things that you would say and we laughed together. Without even turning to look at you, I could see you.

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She’s fighting with herself as she leaves his room, trying not to fall apart before she reaches the nurse’s station; all along the corridor gathering herself up, as if the foyer was a hurdle she had to leap—every day asking herself the same question: how can she possibly leave him here?

Continue ReadingA Story About Love

A woman I barely know says she understands what I’m going through; she can imagine the horror of losing a daughter. ‘I couldn’t go on with life if I lost mine,’ she says. I wish that ‘if’ was mine. The woman’s ‘if’ means she cannot understand.

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If I should pick and unpick my way across torn dreams spun tight over long years, if I collect the fragments and bones and artefacts and examine them diligently for signs and omens, is it enough? Shall I find you again?

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I am always, it seems, the corner in a solid circle; square peg, round hole. Soft powdery warmth, the fold and roll of velvet skin, the dome of a feathered fragile head; muslin wraps a bundle of cherished creation. I ache for the unattainable; a slow hot drip.

Continue ReadingThe Shape of Life