haibun
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September 2008, vol 4 no 3

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Nicola Morris



Untitled

This memory came from the silent Amidah when the Rabbi suggested that everyone didn't have to stand. Instead one could sit and listen. She sat and listened to a man muttering the Hebrew and the father and son behind her breathing.

She could remember the bus in the bare dawn and how the streets shone with the rain and her freedom. She'd believed the man was going to keep her locked in his apartment, rape her every night until she died. He'd threatened this.

What she hadn't remembered before was the sheen on the streets and the sooty smell of the train and how she jumped when someone went past.

Every time she tells this story there is more detail. She's pulled into the dust on the bus, the soot on the train, the ticket she clutched in her pocket. It was luck the bus got her to the station because she jumped on the first bus on the main street at the corner from his street. This is the newest memory, the quiet street and then the busy street with buses. She doesn't mind the memory of the bus and the after-rain glisten on the street and even the fear in her body and the tepid water against her skin and how she needed to scrub, she didn't think of it then as scrubbing him away, just that she had to scrape and rub against all her skin. She doesn't want to remember her body flat against the bed, and the feel of the bottom sheet and the man's insistence that he put it inside her, and how he considered irrelevant anything she told him to make him stop. Does she get to choose, because memories are arriving like guests she doesn't remember inviting, and who clearly plan to stay for a long time? Not just bad memories but the whole experience of her childhood that before was a cartoon she visited in her imagination. Now memory inhabits her body and her body inhabits memory.

This is dangerous. Now she'd like to describe something like the flowering clover she sees from ground level outside her basement window, and the robin, American Robin that is, really, a thrush, who perches on the dirt with his head perked up as if he were listening. The clover grows tall outside the window, four inches of stem before each set of three leaves, one stem of clover wrapping itself around another.

Dawn light refraction.
We scrub memory, bathe in
tepid water. Shine.

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