“…a slow, elated, awed recovery
On New Year’s Eve we climbed the hill behind the house and drank wine until the sun had gone. I gnawed on grass stems because they tasted like peas. When clouds crossed the moon, I couldn’t see your face and you talked about the ways next year would be ‘awesome’. I say ‘I can’t remember much about this year except that most days I felt tired and thought it would get better tomorrow.’
We talk for a long time about ‘isms’. You are giving them up. I am keeping a couple. ‘Why can’t you just do Helenism?’ you say. The isms start to cause schisms. I switch to home-decorating. I tell you that a warm colour would be better for you in winter – Indian spice colours to warm you up, but you are set on hot pink, ‘1977 punk-rock pink’ you call it.
Then it’s midnight and the countryside doesn’t care. We wait for the clouds to clear so we can find our way down again. The dog has come to find us, and the two cats, their bells tinkling in the long grass. Sheep are nestled under the ridge and don’t stir as we walk past. Around the north side of the hill we cast long moon-shadows.
‘Look’ I say ‘We have moon-shadows, like the Cat Stevens song! And there I was thinking that was a load of hippy bollocks all these years.’
I make tea for drinking on the porch because the wine is making my gut sour, but then it feels very late and too cold to be outside. I have so much to tell you but I can’t think where to begin so I talk about the band playing in the Square on Waitangi Day and how long it takes to drive to Paekakariki from here.
I start to shiver. ‘I need some sleepism’ I say. You swallow down a handful of vitamins with the last of your wine. The animals bolt off inside to avoid being shut out.
I go into dark rooms to check that my children are still breathing. I notice how the quieter I want to be, the more the floorboards creak. The microwave casts a dim light across the kitchen, it’s LCD screen says ‘Err’.