Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ynes Sanz: BIG TED

In a recurring dream I am opening a toybox, or sometimes it’s a cupboard, to rummage through mounds of toys that are unfamiliar, though all have the soft contours and faded colour of long use. Have I forgotten them? Perhaps I never owned them at all, but coveted them when they belonged to little friends whose names are lost.

In the gardens of my childhood there were often bomb shelters half buried in the soil. Inside, in the dusty shadows, we children could sometimes find, like family secrets, small traces of the people who tried to rest there night after night. Overhead, flying bombs had made their erratic grinding passage or suddenly cut their engines, to drop in an instant, or drift on, with a faint noise like wind, over the hundreds of hidden upward-gazing heads.

in the air-raid shelter
a plastic brooch.......shot
from a Christmas cracker

In a recurring memory, my father lifts me up to press a button in the blue Police Box at the corner of our road. I am only a toddler but already I know that I must do it right. If my small finger wobbles, the siren sound will not come out in the steady ‘All Clear’ of the test signal, but will make the terrible undulating wail that means an air-raid. I will frighten all the people for miles around, and young as I am, I know they have already been frightened more than enough.

playing on the bombsite
she cradles
a one-legged doll

At the Op shop again, I search with a kind of hunger for the thing that will reveal itself as what I am looking for. Ribbons, a silver christening cup, a walking stick, a cushion with a sentimental verse? A huge square wooden market fruit bin overflows with discarded fluffy toys. I systematically work my way through the pile. Whatever it is, I can’t find it here.
battered photograph
trying to see the face
of the toy in my arms

by Ynes Sanz
Brisbane, Qld., Australia

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