Mary Cresswell

Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles and lives on the Kāpiti Coast. Field Notes (Mākaro Press, 2017) is her most recent book. See also,%20Mary


A friend was visiting family overseas, where they live now but not where the previous generation lived – as she put it, “I’m going back, not back-back.” I thought of this with my own family and realised how much of back-back we try to keep and how much of it disappears, hard as we try. And how much does it matter? I don’t know.

Going back

Of course, you can’t go home again
there’s a limit to going back

even on days when
Mum (who still has all
her marbles) says to
Aunty Jane, Remember

the time when Sarah and
Lily Ann chased Jack?
and then she turns to you
and says, You just loved
Lily Ann, you were her
extra special big girl,

and you say, um …
which was Lily Ann?

and she says, She was
the schoolteacher
and was always dressed
like she was off to church

and you think very hard
until something flickers:

Was she the one who gave me
the sandwich and I dropped it
and the dog ate it? No, says Mum,
that was Aunty Thelma.

Yes, you say. I remember.
I remember them all.