Saturday, July 02, 2011

War

All week long I have dreamed swirling vistas of my past lives set before me in intimate detail, none of which I can hold onto now.

How I hate the way dreams evade me in the morning after I launch into the day.
How I hate the way they slip away, those many and exciting scenes that flew through my mind in the night while I was oblivious, unearthed, without body, merely a visual apparatus in my head that scanned the many scenes my unconscious laid out before me.

Events of the day meld with past events, old characters and new flit in and out, but I cannot hold onto the narrative of these past lives.

If only I could I would write out my dreams all day long. I would write into these fantastical stories to try to find some essence of who I am, of what I see and what I think, rather than feel so bogged down with intellectual artifice as I have felt this morning while trying to write into my father’s grief.

My father’s grief was a visceral thing. He wore it in the wrinkles on his forehead and in the stoop of his back.

He had been a replacement baby. His brother born before him bore the same name but was still born, leven los. No one talked about these things in those days.

What did my paternal grandmother do with her grief at the loss of this her first baby? Within a year she had another, a son, my father, who became her oldest followed closely by three others, one boy and two girls.

In the next generation I was born several years after the conclusion of the second world war on the other side of the world from where that war had been fought, but the legacy of this war leaked into my childhood memories like a religion.

As a child I knew there had been a terrible event called 'the war', a time of starvation and of cruelty, a time in which men killed other men, and people starved, a time when work was scarce and people froze.

No firewood for fires. Some tore up their floor boards, or chopped down street trees to make fires in the cold winter nights, until even these sources of fuel ran out.

The war seemed always to exist in my imagination during winter time, never in summer, but it ran on for years and years.

The whole of my first seven years on this earth we could have been at war at the kitchen table in Greensborough first where we lived and later in Camberwell. I was always waiting for a third world war. I still am.

Speak of war and grief seeps in, whether you fought in it or watched from a afar. War has long tentacles that reach far into the future.
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