I saw my mother on the train last night. She hadn’t changed a bit. Her hair was still frosted. Her eyes had the same tired expression She spoke of Christmas. “Didn’t we have fun,” she asked. “Didn’t we have fun?” She asked if we had fun. The trains run by the cemetery. Often I forget about it, I forget it is there. But if I look up at the right moment, I see the stones have marched further forward as the dead continue taking their places. At the current rate of advance, it will be full before I die. I try to place her stone. My sister went to check on it. The stone wasn’t set properly, she said, but the cemetery had promised to fix it and she drove out to make sure. She told my father that it was the way it should be, he needn’t worry anymore. He was surprised. His look betrayed that he, like me, had never gone back to the cemetery. But as for Christmas, we did have fun. I told her we had fun. It was her last Christmas and we knew that it was important to her that it would be fun. Without so much as one word we agreed not to argue, not to drink too much, to try and bring back the joy we experienced as children, before we became poor and disease had the audacity to strike not once but three times. I wanted to tell her this again, to tell her that we had fun, but when I tried to catch up with her at the station she had disappeared into the crowd and was gone.

First published in Cosmos, Number Two
C 1993