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Packing up, remotely

August 30, 2020
Image by PaolaF from Pixabay
Packing my home of fifteen years. The happiest years.
Bare feet cross stone floors in light-filled rooms,
Past hand-made bookshelves, bursting.
To lie under dappled shade and roses on the long veranda.

I'm packing remotely. 
A phone strapped to his chest, Andrew is my proxy presence.
I can't be there to touch the linen, feel familiar door-knobs.
I won't get to say goodbye.

My house in Johannesburg grows less homely every day.
A home needs care: sweeping, tidying, re-arranging.
Neglect shows quickly. Dust accumulates.
Air becomes stale. The rooms sag.

I went back in December.
Hasty decorations for Christmas; had mum over for lunch.
It wasn't the same. Part of me had left.
Part of me regretted neglecting the house. And mum.

Andrew is full of energy, shaking out the black bin-bags.
Chuck that. That's for charity. That one I'll keep. 
I'm trying to be ruthless. 
A lifetime of gathering splayed across a sprawling, suburban house 
has to be squeezed into a very small apartment.

We get stuck on white linen tablecloths.
Skype-blurred views of once-cherished possessions.
"Is that floral or geometric?" 
"Both geometric. One a kind of starburst, the other little squares."
Domestic minutiae. I keep both.

Two hours of bumpy, blurry video and I'm as nauseous 
as if I'm crossing the sea with my belongings in that container.
My eyes hurt. My head hurts. My heart hurts. 
I take a walk.

That night, awake, I wonder, 
"Will I miss the blue and yellow check that I chucked?"
Yes. But I don't need six table cloths. 
Trying to reason with memories of lunch in the garden,
salt to stop the wine-stain and the scent of wisteria.
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