Memento Mori

A prose poem performed at the Leeds Lit Fest in March 2020. Inspired by a photograph
of an abandoned house, the piece is about ageing. How, when we are old our memories
become our sanctuary.

Walk with me through this place where I was raised. Don’t mind the cracked walls or the
creaking doors, the buckled floors or corridors of dust drifting in shafts of light from the
half blinded windows. Listen to the voices. The voices. Can you hear the voices? They
swarm from the clefts and crannies like irritable bees fighting to escape the slow
suffocation of time. They fly from the nooks and crannies where time had crammed them.
Where time has embalmed them. Where time has made them friable, chalky, dry like the
walls they have been forced to inhabit. Here they come, creaking like doors. drifting in
shafts of light from the myopic windows to be snared by my thoughts. My dreamcatcher
mind. Can you hear them? Can you catch the voices too? Let your head fill with buzzing
murmurs. Let them form patterns and pictures of how things were. See? Now, look with
me through that patina of voices. Nothing has changed. Everything just as it was. Just as
my child’s heart remembers. Let’s turn and walk away now that you’ve seen it. Let us
leave it untouched so we can return again and again whenever we chose, to this place
where I was raised.

Cate Anderson

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