Looking back, I remember, she always said Where are you from? Now I understand her need to know the beginning of things. She wanted to take into her own body where my feet had stood in earth, what mud had squished between my toes, the colour of raised dust in sun haloes, the acid smell of hot tarmac, the cruelty of sharp gravelled country roads on bare feet. This knowledge in her hands, the knowing being the holding, of what was. She wanted to know my was, so the map of our present could be correctly aligned.

It wasn’t as though my past was there for the taking, I admit. Even if it had been all laid out somewhere, it had long since been covered, palimpsest, papered over, painted out so it looked beige, benign, nothing to see here.

I remember the last day, in the kitchen, cold, gritty lino under our bare feet. And the blankness available for a hesitant new sketching

I never knew our starting point she said, so I never knew where we were going, or where we would end up.

Now, with hindsight, I think she was confusing place with time, skin and body with love, love with land. Land with a starting point.

Sandra Renew

Listen to Sandra reading ‘Recovered’ (1:38).


© text and audio 2020