Writing by Magdalene Hoy. Photograph by Jeremy Bishop.
And so it goes that he had finally died. For years I’d been ready, occupied. For years I’d been willing, unwilling. For years I’d been unprepared. I am unprepared. As the wind rushes out from under a bus, swishing the coat tails of commuters into swirling effigies, my ears fill and I am by the sea. The wonderful sea, long and blue. It was simple in its vastness, where it seamlessbent from the sky, I thought I understood. I just smiled; it was blue. He sailed away in that sea in a shoe when I was three and I cried and cried. I did not understand, it was just a shoe and he held my hand all along. By the shore, see it now; blank paper. It does not bend nor ripple but tight as a drum it splits and bursts with the stones and wishes I cast. A dog splashes the sky. An oncoming bicycle splits the breeze that fills my ear and I’ve a fever coming on. I’ve been ready for this since first I knew that things could die. How a bird could fall from the sky or a red-gorged mouse from the mouth of a cat. ‘Canker is of plants and Cancer of people’ I said, my hand soaring. That I knew, that I could say, tell all in the biology class and smile. It was after all, a fact, was it not? The sea was blue then. And I an only child, awake and crying at nightsights of headstones and empty chairs, a feeling I learnt as loneliness. Often I’d feel between my legs, a feeling I’d learnt as togetherness. And trying through tears to get through to a God I was sure I knew. And then how I’d sleep… And now it has come and I am on a pavement and there is wind in my ears. The sea is blue somewhere, that I know. One day we will go and look at it, I promise you that, and throw a stone in and watch it disappear. My Father sailed away to sea in a shoe, I watched him go some years ago.