She’s on the verandah, examining the orange tree. Two more seasons and it’s likely to produce good fruit. She swings a broom round, catching leaves and sand, ushering them down the steps. Three years ago he brought her here, giving her a secondhand car, patching its rust. Dinner’s at six every night. A spider spins an arched web; she notices the paint’s relentless green. The garden crowds her like a rogue herd of cows. The kettle in the kitchen heckles and steams.
That town we lived in when the children were small. One of many little towns we moved to whenever something new caught your eye, or your heart. All those lawns you carved into garden beds. All those days when the children skipped school while I tuned your guitar and picked out arpeggios and harmonics, loving Sor, and Ferrer, and Manen. Outside, the children lined up the chickens, teaching them how to count. The trees around the house ringing with tuis' calls. You slamming the door. Those nights when the rain soothed the roof into sleep. Me drinking coffee and watching water run through the sink, while outside the children taught themselves to fly, while outside the dogs panicked, longing for you to come home.
A lyrebird that can sing like Te Kanawa but makes the sound of a chainsaw. Cats exchanging purrs for yowls. The chickens who shriek in the night, starting us from our bed. Foxes, I guess, or bad dreams. You ran naked across wet grass and sharp gravel to check the locks, to soothe the hens. The skies were crammed with inquisitive stars; the aging gum tree groaned as it shifted its feet. For weeks after, my dreams were of foxes, and of tearing, and of the end of things.
We have gathered our lives and they look like something we no longer know. So much extravagance. The cupboards and chests of drawers are soon collected by others; we begin to give away our books. We wonder what we did in those fixed-looking years; we ponder who we might have been. The boxes are capsules of misgiving and, as we lift a lid, there are old letters speaking to us of forgotten intensities. ‘Really?’ you ask. And then, ‘Yes, I remember it.’ Those strong things, feeling their way towards us. Webs that grew into flesh and bone.
On the accompanying audio recording the sequence is read by Owen Bullock.