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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 2, June 2013

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Michelle Brock
Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia


They Steal Things

You click up the footpath in your best high heels, cream, to match your handbag and your freshly ironed dress. I walk beside you and every so often I catch a whiff of the perfume you sprayed behind your ears just before we left. Unforgettable, it’s called. You bought it from the Avon Lady last week. We’re off to town. When we reach the bus stop, you check the time, open your purse and hand me my fare.

sunlight catches
the marcasite gemstones
on your watch—
how far apart
each birthday seems

Today we’re out shopping again. You shuffle up the ramp to the mall in a pair of shabby slippers, the only shoes you can squeeze your swollen feet into. You’re still wearing the house dress with the stains down the front despite my best efforts to persuade you to change. Every few steps you stop to trawl through your handbag for your purse.

thoughts come
in spurts and splutters
like radio static—
what the mind forgets
the body must remember

You notice me checking the time and feel your wrist for your watch. Of course it’s not there. I take a deep breath. How can time possibly matter when your life is stuck on slow-motion replay? You desperately need new slippers and a nightdress but you decide you must replace the missing watch. You tell me that all your lovely things are disappearing and wonder if the carers, who come to your house, are stealing things. Shaking my head, I reach for your hand. I glimpse our reflections in the shop window as we head towards the jewellers.

the years
are breathing down my neck—
I walk beside you
in the shadow
of the memory thief

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