The Blue Jay’s Daughter: Commelina…Backwards, Part 8

tumblr_mdhdiyBfUy1qh9fgxo1_r2_500Sunday 8th – Year of Elders, 1967 – The Village of Almado

I’ve been watching my mama move across the room. She glides. I watch her feet, waiting for them to touch the ground. They appear to, but study them closely and there is the tiniest fraction of space. My mama floats.

I came back from the albinos’ wire walking on Thursday determined to know my mama. To know myself. This is how I learned that, although I’ve observed her, day in and day out for the past fifteen years, since I was in my bassinet, I’ve never really seen her.

She’s an illusion.

Everything about her is carefully presented to fool the eye.

She seems serene, but she is always on edge; she seems solid, but the sun shines through her if it hits her right; she seems grounded…and yet she floats.

Even her clothes no longer convince me that she is entirely here. Those drab house coats over fine floral print dresses with cap sleeves and staid white collars. They’re camouflage, only effective as long as we look at her side on, do not fully see her.

I see her.

And she, too, is a ghost.

Not the haunting kind, you understand. The village has one of those in the town hall. A wailing man who appears at sunset in the top window. You can never hear him, only see the ragged shape of his body, the black gape of his mouth. I’ve seen him twice.

It’s not portentous.

There are no superstitions attached to his presence. He’s old Bob Villers.

The story goes his wife died in childbirth whilst he was at town hall. Poor little Amelie Becher, the midwife’s daughter and all of nine years old, carried the news to him. Bore the trauma of his response. He died fifty-five years after that moment, but on the afternoon he died, at the ripe old age of 85, that single event of his life was the one he chose to return to.

To replay over and over.


Nana says he remarried within a month and went on to have four bonnie sons and a daughter the spit of his new wife. He loved them too. So why that moment? Why not one of the many happier ones made during his final fifty-five years?

I think we are contrary, and sometimes we choose pain over joy because we believe we deserve it.

My mama has chosen her pain. She has chosen to never be seen as she is, to hide behind this illusion, to glide through life rather than live it. The question is: why? I sit here and watch her glide through the living room, sweeping the unwieldy head of our old hoover across the rug. Dust particles skim under her heels, playful and carefree.

Sometimes, when I squint, I can see them playing within her, as if she is a sunbeam.

My mama, glowing through the room. Close the curtains. Will she disappear? I’ve never felt that my mama was ever truly with us. Now I know I was right. So where is she? If mama is not here, she must be somewhere.

I sound foolish. It’s all right, I sound foolish a lot. But I have my experience with Commelina to guide me, although I’m the only one to acknowledge that all these goings on have been out of the ordinary.

How do people do that?

They see wonders, things beyond their imagining, and they dismiss them. Mass hallucination. Derangement of some kind. Something in the water. Even the backwards day has been dismantled and re-built as rational. When I ask why, I am told in furious tones that to believe those things actually happened is irrational.

Human beings are not rational, so why do we cling to the idea that we are? Is it fear?

I mean, there’s Commelina, right in front of their eyes every single day, still a cygnet. ‘That’s not Commelina,’ they say. ‘She flew away.’ Never mind the egg floating on the water. Or her many iterations before that. She’s a different bird to them, and always will be.

But they still call her Commelina.

And they worry about the silent Blue Jays.

In a town of folk who view superstition with the same contempt as failing to visit church on a Sunday, whose resident ghost is merely a man who died and chose pain over heaven, the Blue Jays are seen as portentous.

Make of that what you will.


© Ren Warom 2014


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