Young cousins (for Gabrielle)

Do you remember Deadly Earnest and his club foot clomp-clomp-clomping to the screen while we hid beneath a blanket afraid to see? I have vague recollections of a trunk in which he kept gruesome things like the arms of dead pirates or puppets whose creepy eyes followed me. Those were the days of monsters lurking in the oceans deep, waiting for children in their sleep adrift in unmoored sailing-ship-beds to happen by. Time flies like a red beaked sea bird alone and calling follow, follow, to those deaf and blind and blessed with ears and sight alike and then one day you find those waters have all been fished of giant octopi and the ships themselves have broken up on the pressing, beating tide. I saw you just the other day and you said, hey don’t write a story about us and I laughed, no, no, but here it is: just near your first beach house at Rye which had a thatched roof, I’m sure, there was an old church and I followed you in one day past the statue of the couple being married and the painting of the risen Christ. I thought you the keeper of a great mystery so many strides ahead of me, unafraid in the stained glass light but when the rusty-hinged old church doors swung back behind us with a sudden swish and clutter, I took flight and so did you so that we leapt down stairs and lay laughing on the grass outside. At least, that’s how I remember it now, as a story I tell myself. What narratives we have emerge like the sun from clouds so boldly we cannot imagine they weren’t there before and, now there, won’t be shaken off, not even when memory, the old steamer run aground, refloats itself and denies there ever was such a time.

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