She walks a marathon distance each day,
passing people she has known for years
now unrecognizable, vague, like shadows.
She no longer engages with them,
struggling to distinguish between the faded faces.
She retraces each step, regardless of the weather -
always dressed for it. Back and forth.
The same handful of routes trodden in sequence.
The same street corner where she pauses, looks back
and shakes her head, seeking a way to think through the jumble,
then convincing herself that she’s lost something on her journey.
So she backtracks then stops, she forgets why she turned back,
she forgets everything that she’s lost.
She keeps herself immaculate;
three cardigan changes each day.
Every change is a new day to her,
every act a rediscovered experience.
Minimal makeup, unassuming jewelry,
a hair pin calming the wave of her fringe.
Pristine. Tidy. Dignified. A grasp at self respect;
the thing she feels most important to hold on to
as all other things fall silently around her like confetti.
Nails not painted for 20 years, lips not pursed for ever.
She had a husband once, and a son, or did she just imagine that?
Did she imagine the three of them rolling in grass,
running on sand, consumed with love,
huddled and cuddled, safe and warm?
Or was it real, contained in her lost history?
Right at this moment she chooses to keep the memories
and she keeps them for as long as she can, savouring every moment
until they dissolve and she is left alone on that street corner.
Looking back. Forgetting. Walking on.
I see her walk for miles, upon hours, upon days.
I wonder about the stories she can no longer tell,
about the memories that only appear in snippets,
and the lifetime that is trapped within her.