You stand in the scuffed Box Brownie square,
pretty and slim in your summer shorts,
your Heddy Lemarr hair, in front of a stage-left
parasol somewhere on the Côte d’Azure
between your two young daughters,
like the border guard between rival nations.
All of us squinting in the unfamiliar sun.
The past, they say, is another country,
one I barely remember as I search
our eyes to understand the real story.
I forget what was going on in front of us.
A man waving to his wife from the sea,
perhaps, a barefoot boy in a sombrero
selling sugared almonds on the beach,
children in a pedallo, laughing.
Years later, as you lay
trying to catch your shallow breath
in the summer heat –
the same month as your name,
the same month as your birth –
I sat beside your cot holding
your frail hand in mine
like a child in danger of getting lost –
wanting to tell you,
this is who I am, this has been the story.
That there are no drafts, no proofs
to be corrected, that we do not
get to write it again.
by Sue Hubbard
from: the punch magazine