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She opens the door to the library and walks barefoot, following the arrows marking the way; turn right, turn left, straight ahead. Row after row of memories, stacked, classified, catalogued, labelled – shelved. Her fingers, playing moments like a harp, release the fragrance of sweet peas, damask roses. She has brought ribbons with her.


She stops, touches an image; a church without an altar, the coldness of stone on her feet, silk on skin: the lord is my shepherd, she sings. She fastens a blue ribbon around the memory and attaches it to a block of flats, twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, lessons to be learnt.


She walks her heartbeat along the aisles. An orange ribbon for the smell of autumn tied to tomatoes in a green house, eating them with cheese. Purple for strong arms around her: I’d like to take you to a desert island, he says.


Her pace quickens, the stone floor cracks. A yellow ribbon for a wheel, dirty white rubber, worn and frayed, a wet pavement busy with shoes: you’re going to run him over! she cries. Now she is running; row after row. Another wheel, no four, a pram: you’re too young, her mother says.


Her feet pound up and down the aisles crushing the stone as she weaves, red, blue, over, under: I’m always chasing rainbows, she sings. Yellow, green, under, over. She binds seagulls, sticky hair, salty wind, stinging eyes with a red ribbon: look, she’s turning the taps on again, her father says.


Running is difficult, feet sinking in mud. Blue for a stranger in her bed: think of the children, they all say. She turns right, turns left, finds the sickly smell of her dying grandfather’s dressing gown, a green ribbon. She crouches, reaches. A fairground, bright lights, a caravan: alright? he asks – misunderstood words.

Up and down the aisles, over, under, outside, inside, forwards. Stop.

The totem pole, the war dance: I’m going to keep you like this, he whispers. She is falling.

A child’s voice calls out through space-time. She jumps, catches the sound, secures it to herself and lands safely on the ground.

Maypole Dancing
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