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  • Writer's pictureJL Nash



A spiral galaxy of shiny shells adorn the wooden music box. It belongs to my great-grandmother Nonny’s Victorian childhood. The clockwork has long lost its key and there are shells missing and broken on two corners. My mum tells me not to touch. It is precious. I sneak a touch and my fingers trace the ridges on the shells outside and the red felt interior. Now I live beside the Coral Sea. I receive the remnants of my grandmother’s life now spent. To complete the memories of my heritage, all I am missing is a small, broken, shell music box.

Kicking, my gall bladder scolds me. Lipid loss begins. Mean nurses say no. No food today. Operating timetables forbid it. Priorities change daily. Questioning nurses is useless. Rescheduled every day for five days. Still waiting for food or the call to theatre. The final day at 6pm I am hurried there. Unbelievable. I am so used to it being cancelled.Very last removal of the day. Waiting for the anesthetic to comfort me, I remember the processes. X-rays. Yesterday’s scans are still useful, they go ahead. Zipper down I step out of my old body to inhabit a healthier new me.

His spider limbs envelop me, Shiatzu positions. Releasing searing heat from bursitis in my left shoulder, I inhale within the rhythm of movement. Working on my lung meridian. My head fills with the tender face of my recently deceased grandmother. Her dark sun-kissed patches on her face, her blindness, her knitting by feel, her unconditional love, her laughter like bubbles. Grief is the emotion of the lungs. In all the beauty of remembrance I sob. Such sorrow clings to me. I miss her. ‘Breathe’ he says so quietly and I gulp, the pain transfers itself into my heart.

FELIX - it’s not always biological
Little gold head I used to kiss goodnight. When you spoke my name, my heart would explode into infinite pieces of love for you. Climbing sticky pine trees in our pyjamas and returning covered in black mud, we would laugh out loud through scratches and scrapes. You were so fearless at five. Eventually, I faded into your early boyhood. The poetry of an ex step-parent shredded itself and longing hid beneath fragments of paper. I’m sorry. I too, let you down. I read the news. My heart shattered. Shards bled me where you have always lived; my temporary forever son.

I am trapped in my upturned, mud-covered BMW.
Bright sunlight hurts my eyes. Faced with a choice for death, I want to jump over the edge.
I wonder what the world would be like without me in it before skidding on the wet road into a ditch. Smell hot engine oil through the rain.
I remember being blinded by African noon sunlight on the narrow ledge of the summit of Thaba Putsoa, in Lesotho. Hands grabbed me and sat me down- as the hands of passing Philippino labourers form a chain to pull me to safety.
I still belong here.

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