7 December 2012
Memory is Tidal by Madelaine Lucas
Memory is Tidal by Madelaine Lucas (22)
I read somewhere that the moon was once a part of the earth, and that it got hurled into space when the earth was still forming out of molten rock and lava. Now, when the moon reaches its full cycle, the oceans rise and reach towards it. You laughed when I told you, later. Of course that isn’t true, you said. But I kept thinking about it anyway. I identified with the ocean, always trying to reach out towards my missing half. I thought of you as my moon, and hoped that we too, would continue this cyclical dance for eternity.
Memory, too, is tidal. Pictures lap against our minds and break down the tiny grains of time; slip through our hands.
And so things come to us, small details: lighting a cigarette… A wet sky strung with stars, air so cold it hurts your chest and you can see your breath.
October, Montreal. Seeing Mont Royal from the windows of a train. The sun shining as if through a gentle filter. The leaves underfoot not crumpled and brown – they are all the colours of fire: burnt oranges, tangerine, crimson, lilac. Colours our trees at home don’t know how to make; they never learned how to change gradually.
And a Canadian drew a map for me of the whole country, showed me where the bears were and the coldest parts. And I drew Australia, and it looked friendly, like a picture in a children’s book. We drank Canadian gold, and as we walked the streets, I practiced forgetting and erasing. I went back and wrote to you: ‘autumn in Montreal, all the street signs are in French and the leaves are the colour of fire’ and I listened to Joni Mitchell.
Sydney harbour at night, holding my breath when the train emerged from the underground to reveal the harbour, dressed in lights and all the beauty reflected in the water. Five years have passed and I can still see that picture of the city, beneath the city, as if time is just a hologram and the past is still present beneath the surface of today.
Like how I can see shadows of ancestors long dead in the bone structures in my face when I look in the mirror.
And all the while, the ocean is there to remind us of all the sadness, of all the chaos and beauty in the world (of falling in love, of grief, hope, dreams, memories: all move with an oceanic rhythm, an oscillating wave, languid and resounding…)
Walking through a graveyard with the winter sun in my eyes and seeing all the lives paraphrased into single sentences. I wouldn’t know how to write your eulogy. The things that would come to me: you, eating an apple, you, shivering, you, wearing a coat and eyes bright and bloodshot with the cold. The beat of your heart, bleeding now through these lines.
Wave after wave, until I am nauseous. Seasick.
I have traced maps, real ones, imaginary ones. Drawn lines into your palms in the small hours and tried to trace prophecy. Nothing can change us now. Love has carved us into statues that cannot age and cannot regret. Birds are nesting on our balcony. I can hear them in the morning.