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Dancing Man

Page 5

Karen Lethlean

She has drifted off again, eyes unfocused, mouth open. Sometimes I can almost hear signals trying to cross synapse gaps, fizzing to a stop before they can bridge shut-down sections of my mother’s brain.

Rather than think about what might or might not be happening inside her head, I notice she is wearing slippers again. Middle of the afternoon, I’d have thought these were night-time footwear. I brush a wisp of hair back behind Mum’s ear. Our culture doesn’t tell us how to love someone with greying hair. Age is supposed to be a thing we’re ashamed of, shut them away, especially when faced with continued evidence of lost control. We colour our hair and make up our face, hiding what is happening inside. One day makeup and hair dos won’t compensate for negated brain function. Mum used to make up her face, worry how her hair looked, now she doesn’t even know what lipstick or face powder are, wears her grey hair long around her shoulders, and dons slippers at random times.

‘What about the Dancing Man, Mum?’

‘No, not in public. Or during daylight dear. Dancing used to be for town halls at night.’  

‘Tell me about being an office worker in the city, Mum.’

While she ponders my invitation to dwell in another time, I picture Martin Place as a work area decades ago. Hard to recognize any buildings now, most are overshadowed, or mere representations on construction barricades which surround new transport system works. Fortunately, a few landmarks do remain, declared by the National Trust, like APA building. A brown tower, looming tall back in Mum’s day. Polished granite at base, providing an interesting contrast. During war years, the Department of Manpower took over several floors, forcing APA to shrink down, to occupy only the bottom three stories. She’s talked about this often, so I figure maybe reminiscence will be nice.

Page 5

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