Saturday 6 June 2020

'Rubin's Vase' by Rosaleen Lynch

Ma left gaps I fill with other people. I tell my doctor about the draught that gets in at night, through the old window frame that whistles. I ask the deli-counter assistant, if she likes my shoes. She has to go on tip-toe to lean over the glass display of sushi to see. I ring the priest at eleven-thirty at night to ask what he’s watching on TV and recommend a black and white movie on another channel. My daughter's teacher-parent conference, I spend debating nature-nurture and a tele-sales call begins with pleasantries and the benefits of insulation but evolves to humming the song I have in my head but can’t remember.

In the post office line an older man complains about the time it’s taking and I tell him the two ingredient recipe I found for flatbread. I take the cat to the vet and ask if I look older every time she sees me and who she thinks I look like? When the man in the coffee shop tells me to ‘Smile, it might never happen,’ I say climate change is happening and tell him how shore dock could save the world.

In the office I ask a new client if it's a bad idea to meet my ex, and cite the ways he says he's changed. When a colleague asks for the quarterlies I tell him about the late dandelions in the garden and ask if he knows how to stop the seeds from spreading and taking root. And in the lift I tell a woman from the fourth floor, as she button’s up her coat, she should have a mammogram. 

I tell the taxi driver how much I’ve slept and the woman on the fruit stall, how my daughter can now swim a length. I ask the solicitor who draws up my will, how many sweets she could once get for a penny. I give the key-cutter a peach and tell him how they are the strongest fruit.

I show the student librarian my photo of the first sunset of the new year. He shows me pictures of Japanese lanterns floating on the lake. I ask if he ran round it as a child, counting how many times he could? He says next time he might. I see Ma in the twilight shadows of the photo and ask him how he knows her, but his face is blank.

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