INHERITANCE

 

BY MARION PIPER


Every object we encounter
is swollen with story

when hands handle
a handmade artefact
the intangible intricacies of emotion
erupt, spewing forth
hidden histories we as humans
have carried for so long – when
we whisk wonderful meals
with that old wooden spoon
we remember our grandmother’s cooking, or
in the depths of winter
as we bury our faces beneath the covers
the warmth of the family blanket
enrobes us in familiarity
a never ending circle of stuff

what is made by hand
is made hand-in-hand
with what we make of culture; 
a dissection, a decision
of what we hold dear
an expression of the ‘who’
in ‘who are you’ – are you
as bold as that black belt
you brandish? Are you
as chaotic as your camisole
covered in clashing chromatics
seems to signify?

we wear so much, so often
unaware of how heavy
culture can become when
worn in lots of layers
competing patterns of identity
turning thin over time

when I touch an object
I linger of the lightness
of the moment
as mirrors of meaning float
in and on and through
the everyday items
I absentmindedly adhere myself to
currents of connotation
bubbling away beneath these surfaces
we touch not knowing
that we may be touched
in return

I love a good spring clean
you know, a ‘purge’
where clothes and shoes and books
are brought out of the shadows
into the harsh light of judgement
sentenced according to sentiment
either embraced or expulsed
forged into the arms of friends
or victoriously dumped at the Vinnie’s
down the road
a never ending circle of stuff

I’ve never held onto ‘stuff’
for that long – my love of lands
far and wide prohibiting
any prolonged possession of pictures
or pants or precious pieces

what I couldn’t carry
I wouldn’t keep

until now

now I cling to things
I never thought I could
I abstain from objecting to objects
I project my personal history onto
the genesis of this conflicting condition
can be traced back
way back to my childhood
to the land of tack and tan…

my mother and I moved mercilessly
through the Gold Coast in the 90s – 
apartments, townhouses, villas, units
my list of past addresses was greater
than years I had on the planet
by the time I reached the end
of my first decade of life

each home was a humble gathering
of malleable memory
of hers
of mine
of ours; we assembled space together
in choreographed chaos
tables and chairs bumping
into windows and walls
our bedrooms bursting with baggage
both literal and ephemeral
objects were often abject
but we certainly made do

I had forgotten the shape
the size of each room
the colour of the drapes
whether there were stairs
or not

but

I remember the sound
of my mother’s favourite bangle
banging against the sharp silver
of the sink early every morning
before work, before school
before anyone thought of anything
she swiftly sank into coffee
clanking as she went
her bangle was sparse but special
scuffed and soldered
it had its own tune to play

the circularity of my mother’s bangle
her name carved deep
into its metallic bones
(worn deep into my own) 
now wanders along my wrist
echoing my every move

the clear clang of it colliding
with a table top or rail
has become the sound
of her unconditional love
the sound of her laughter and
the sound of what was supposed to be
a lifetime of little locutions

I no longer feel her hand
I feel my mother’s bangle
its metal is warm when on my skin
creating a never ending circle
around my limb
an inheritance of intuition
I can’t let loose
that brings me home
to a house I have never lived in
a habitat I hardly know: history
or rather, herstory
pools in the grooves of her name 

as an only child I inherited more
than the genetic garlands that gave
me this form, this shape
I grew into my mother’s sadness
her fear, her insecurity, but
I wrote myself out of her story
with pens and paper and patience
and as her body broke
I broke along with it
only to piece myself back together
with the pieces she left behind:


jackets
jewellery
a disdain for cigarettes
a 2006 diary
photographs
missed opportunities
a gold-plated purple ring
leopard print scarves
so many questions

and this
her favourite bangle

this is why
I now cling to things
I never thought I could
I abstain from objecting to objects
I project my personal history onto
because
every object we encounter
is swollen with story
a story that begins
and ends
in the body and
what is kept close to the body
the body becomes

my mother’s bangle is now
a treasured talisman
an accomplice to action
a memento mori
beauty, chipped and bent
truth
failure
every emotion
that ever existed and
others I’m yet to feel
so when you go to throw away
that next batch of belongings
pause
imagine
touch

and be touched.