She had bags of bags, filled with shoes,
Christmas wrappings, old cards and new
ones. Bags of overplayed toys as
well as unopened letters. We
kept clawing into the gloom and
dust. More bags and open boxes,
buried in the insect shell car-
pet, deep in the fabric of the
long dead. Box after box… some had
bags in, some had letters in, reams
of notes, in bags.
There were more shoes, a crimson coat
of monstrous proportions. There was
a box full of bags from the eigh-
ties filled with toys – battalions
of soldiers in their disarray
of unit and rank, eyeballing
teams of alien muscle men
through the decades.
And last of all, wrenching the news-
paper floor with it, dragged out from
beyond, a decomposing lea-
ther hold-all, filled with photographs.
Beaming back from their childhood, tiers
of school pics, camping trips, instants
of birthdays hurried though and fla-
shes of Christmases. I clamber
back. I kneel back and, hands on knees,
I take a breath.
These treasures are piled in the spare
room, one trove stacked on a chair. In-
haling the gasps of long ago,
hefting. The chatter of ages
fills my nostrils, hits the back of
my throat – my memories – and I
gulp down more, then she shuts the
bedroom window, which abruptly
Go get a bag then. Her hands al-
ready picking over the bones.
Another bag. This one heavy
with the deep dark implications
of it’s colour. The crisp pliable
plastic of sacks, body bags, the
terrible cocoon. I bare my
mind as I reach into the
kitchen cupboard, downstairs. Here dark
personal thoughts swim. So upstairs
again I rip one finali-
ty after another off the
roll as she empties years of what-
ifs into them.
We stay there for days jogging back
and forth through shared and forgotten
events. All that’s dead is gone, all that’s dust
is dead in a bag in a box
in a hole There’s a dream that once
lit up her head.