Visit to my Mother
The pink and red Impatiens in her garden
look artificial. And the lawn too green. But all
of Rosebank and its malls look artificial to me.
I feel stranded among her fish forks and knives.
The family photos have congealed inside their frames.
“Do you believe in evolution?” she asks. “That’s a fact,”
I say, “it’s not a matter of belief.” She doesn’t like the fact
that humans started off in Africa. “What about
the different races? And the different cultures? How
can they work these things out from a pile of old skulls?”
“The Sunday Times has a black editor, hasn’t it?”
“Yes,” I say. “That’s why it’s full of sex,” she says.
“It’s always been,” I say, “and anyway
those stories come from British newspapers.”
“It’s even more these days,” she says,
“that’s all they’re interested in – sex and thieving.”
Her racism is savage as ever.
I’ve come to see her because she’s been ill.
In intensive care. She could have died.
“They all pinch,” she says.
“Last month they pinched a car
from the parking garage.” Pinch – that’s the word
she uses. She seems quite healthy now
except she has a pinched nerve in her spine,
she has to use a wheelchair or a walking frame.
“Do you believe in reincarnation?” she asks.
She’s 86. “I believe in everything,” I say.
“Well I don’t,” she says. “I’ve been so weary recently,
so old, so tired. I do believe in God, though.
I don’t know why, because I’m cynical. Do you?”
“Believe in God? Sure, but I prefer the Dao.
Less anthropomorphic.” “Less what?” The TV is on
much too loud. “I have no talent,” she says “I’ve never had a talent.”
“You’ve always been bright. And you’re still alert,” I say,
“surely you have some redeeming qualities?”