My Mother at Sea (A Tribute)


My father died at sea in 1936. His body was thrown overboard to prevent the disease that killed him from spreading. About half the crew died of the same thing. It came from the biscuits. So it goes.

I keep getting this image of my mother in the prow of a ship with torn sails. She is cradling me as she gazes out over the raging sea. I don’t know whether I’m time travelling, remembering or just dreaming, but I feel there must be some meaning behind it because it is so vivid, complete with the creaking of the ship and the smell of tar.

In the vision, my mother’s mouth is open and there is a song in and outside my head which cuts through everything. Whether she is singing to the sea or me or someone else, I don’t know, but there are splashes later and I wonder who has followed my father into the depths.


English: A simple wind chime

Wind Chime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember the smell of smoke that clung to my grandfather and the sound of his breathing. It sounded like he was trying to pull a hurricane through the eye of a needle. He had a missing finger on his right hand.


I remember the spring when I stepped into a bucket of orange paint and left small orange footprints all the way from the front yard to our flat on the second floor and found my big brother. I was crying, but he just laughed at me.


I remember the boiling water from the holes on Iceland and how I shied away from all holes in the ground afterwards.


And I remember the wind chime on the terrace outside the room where my mother stared into space for hours after my father left for China and I never saw him again, and how the wind chime never seemed to sound as musical as they do in films or are described in books.


I remember straying into a dream where I was little red riding hood, and the wolf told me that he was the one who ate my grandfather’s finger.


I remember a smell of lavender in a meadow somewhere on the north island of New Zealand, but my brother says I’ve never been there.

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