Keeping Mum

Then, one night, his mother doesn't come home from the beach.

He is eleven. She's promised to make him tacos.

He arranges the shells on a tray. The sky bruises lilac,

steel grey, and then black.

When she finally limps in from the moon,

small from all that weight,

he is pulled between shock and rage.

The sandbar beneath his feet has given way.

 

From that point on, the beach triggers alarm.

Like that black dog up the road, it's always there,

scraping at some buried bone.

As she peddles towards the sea, he'll stand at the door,

asking 'see you soon?', waving like a ragdoll.

In the distance, he can hear the waves collapsing upon her steps.

 

At thirteen, he says they should go on a holiday -

somewhere she likes this time.

Before bed, he needs to clarify, 'See you in the morning ...?'

 

At fourteen, when she finally goes missing (in the car, this time,

and unrecognizable when found),

he has meticulously laid out the ingredients for pizza:

sliced capsicum, salami, tomato; grated cheese; crushed garlic -

all ready.

He would arrange her happiness.

And in the morning, the sea would be clear.

 

 

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