If you kindly read and review my work, I'll return the favour.
Author's Note: The following piece is two stanzas of Ian Wedde's poem, Shadow Stands Up, followed by my personal engagement with the poem in the form of prose.
I should note that the two brilliant stanzas of the poem, all of the words appearing within them, and any passages quoted from them in the prose, belong to Ian Wedde.
A question for reviewers: In your opinion, what do you think the two stanzas of the poem are about and how does my prose re-creation re-enforce the poem's ideas?
Shadow Stands Up
was what Donna talked about
on the way to lunch in the
food-court on Ponsonby Road
but I forgot all about
it when she next told me that
the mummified body of
an Egyptian princess had
been diagnosed with a heart
condition at forty years
of age despite a presumed
diet of vegetables,
fruit, and fish, pretty much what
we eat most of the time and
believe we're doing enough
thereby to earn a decent
stretch. Memory, though, what a
shadowy mystery that
is, how it mars the surface
of the present it then stands
up in, augmented, a dead
presence that should have lasted.
My first home, which I shared with
my twin brother David, was
our mother's womb. This is the
first sentence of the book that's
got me thinking about what
exactly memory does
and what time it does that in,
for example, when was I
'I' when I wrote that sentence,
was I in the time of the
tardy twin hanging back in
the warm, shady womb, or was
I out here in the cold light
of day, too late now to say
wait as Dave's shadow stands up
and moves into the neither
here nor there we live in while
in the world packs the foreground's
that never lasts long enough.
My phone is an augmented reality of my life. The bright images take me back in time to moments and memories I would have otherwise forgotten like the day Donna and I had lunch on Ponsonby Road, seated in stiff, wooden chairs at a table with a small grey top in the middle of the boisterous food-court.
"She was only 40," said Donna, pushing several loose strands of graying hair behind her ears.
I looked up from my meal, the fish and vegetables growing cold on the blue tray before me.
"Who was?" I asked, having being tuned out for much of Donna's dialogue.
Donna sighed, a little impatient. By now she was used to my short attention span, but being accustomed to my flaws didn't mean they frustrated her any less.
"The Princess. The Egyptian one, diagnosed with a heart condition. She wasn't even that old, really," she stated, summarizing in seconds what had likely taken her minutes to say earlier. If she'd been so succinct the first time around, I wouldn't have needed her to repeat herself.
I was sure I'd heard the story before somewhere. Maybe it was Donna who had first told me and we'd both forgotten the conversation. Memory, though, what a shadowy mystery that is. Memories stand up and exit the mind, coming and going as they please. Sometimes they don't come back at all and I strain to remember them, but fear they're dead, having died outside my mind when, had they stayed with me, they would have lasted.
There are more pictures in that augmented reality, including one of my twin brother, David. I shared my first home with David. It was our mother's womb.
The picture was taken the second to last time David and I spoke. The last time was a brief conversation over the phone. I had asked him where he was.
"Neither here nor there," he had responded. "I'm on the road at the moment. Out in the bloody wop wops somewhere."
I had asked him where he was headed, but have since forgotten the answer. That got me thinking about exactly what memory does and what time it does it in. Maybe I'll write a book about it.
Our mother couldn't even remember which twin was born first. It didn't take much time for that memory to be erased, she claimed, as if the order of our arrival into the world was of little real importance. To me, though, it was of a great deal of importance.
I had asked David that day on the phone, "Which one was I, Dave?"
"What d'you mean, which one? Which one of what?" He'd asked.
"I mean, Was I the tardy twin hanging back in the warm, shady womb, or was I out here in the cold light of day?"
I knew there was no point asking him. How could either of us know?
I had forgotten David's response too. In fact, that's all of the conversation I could remember. The memory is fragmented and each time I try to recall it, it merely stands up and shrinks back into the shadow of my mind. It never lasts long enough.