How well I remember it. My mother laughing above me - either I was in the pram, or more likely, sitting on the seat that went across the pram with my baby sister the one in the pram itself. The joy and tenderness in that memory, the sensation of sun and the scent of summer (the smell of broom). The fleeting glimpse of a mother as a person, slightly discombobulated ... did I recognise an uncertainty and did it trigger the memory's shift across to a place of constant accessibility? The words 'earliest memory' always produce a flood of associations of a quick opening into a world of yellow and laughter and warmth. Of perhaps there being a solid track, a road to follow, which we went off, to discover a softer, more secret world. Of possibility. Uncertainty. Beauty. Risk. Of a mother's young face, her red hair.
I wrote a poem about it which is included in my book, 'Made for Weather'. It is called 'earliest memory' and I have posted it below.
My mother pushes the pram through
a forest of broom
to more solid, roadside shingle.
Had she taken a shortcut
and got us lost? Remembering back
yields my only clues: how tall
my mother was, how breathless
with laughter and how soft
the broom, as soft as the empty fingers
of gloves, the flowers as yellow
as near suns, their perfume as elusive
as the smell of moths.
Kay McKenzie Cooke
Causes Kay Cooke Supports
NZ Forest and Bird
Riding for the Disabled