These days I have come to see that everything is temporary, that people are only shadows that exist for a short time until they dissipate like raindrops on a windowpane or sweetpea or whispers meant for only one and that quickly fall into the atmosphere to nothingness. A cascade of dust spores in an empty room - all fleeting. Why it's just the opposite to hearing the cuckoo in June, you count yourself lucky to hear it, you might even stop what you are doing, it could be weeding in the vegetable patch or hanging out the clothes, you count yourself lucky to have heard it and then you forget about it until the next June comes along or something else distracts, some other beautiful thing like a ladybird on your arm or a loved ones voice that beckons. But you know as sure as anything that the cuckoo will return. Most people do not, once gone, they are gone.
How slowly, how benign it is to become a shadow. It is effortless. Deceptively quiet. A very gradual demise. Little bits of definition start to fall away and you don't even notice it happening. Pieces of me crumbling and lost and ghosted, an anonymous woman absorbed with a smooth shopping cart pulling me along, up and down gilded aisles in search of fabric softener and organic eggs and anti-wrinkle cream. That's when it happens. There is Jackie at the check out. All is know about Jackie after fifteen years is that she has;
no children, one dog, no car, one husband, likes fruit, does not travel. Has no shadows. Jackie smiles and says, take care, bye now, bye bye bye bye. Does Jackie see me? Does the woman in the department store see me? She offers me, Verbena. Musk. Lemons. Lavender. Neroli. Her lips are vast, they scream Ruby Red, her smile rehearsed with offers of tints of scents to cloak my wrists, my nape.
My shadows are scented now. My body suffused with perfume that has no scent except that of a shadow. The shadows on my mother's face were always there. I never saw her crumble until it was too late. If I had been on the outside looking in, I might have seen them but if I had been on the outside looking in, I would not have felt her body by my side and the way it disguised the demise, like a burning wick, gradual but sure.