by Lynda Scott Araya
Inspired by Mary Ward
In China, they eat birthday longevity noodles,
Lo mein, pulled thinner than my nerves,
cat-cradle looped over a mother’s hands like a girl’s
primary school game. Koru shaped,
they lie on a floured board,
eight metres long; perfect.
They spiral universes of possibilities, smell of warm milk,
a young baby’s neck.
Later, they are ladled abundant onto plates
and slurped unbroken for a long life to come.
When you were a toddler, I had little to give,
but did my best: chocolate chip biscuits, fork-pressed flat,
misshapen bagels that dripped butter, cheap jam,
one chicken breast each at Christmas,
lettuce leaves, real orange juice.
You were always hungry,
canned spaghetti your favourite,
though you jumbled the word,
would shout, lips pursed, spasghetti
reddened poisoned apple cheeks puffed.
Today, I remember you, alive still,
heave you up onto the kitchen bench,
where you sit, feet drumming into the cupboards,
hungry, your hand-me-down overalls
with their over-sized colourful buttons
sanded from kindergarten adventures,
and you watch me stir the spaghetti
that sits in the pot tin-shaped and glutinous.
Short noodles and too short a life.
Lynda Scott Araya is a writer and teacher living in rural New Zealand. Primarily a short fiction writer, some of her foci are domestic violence, feminism, grief and she is a strong voice for raising awareness about mental health, and advocates about ending suicide stigma as well as the stigma surrounding those bereaved by a sudden death.