Museum of Miniature, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen
As part of the Museum of Miniature project at West Cork Arts Centre, I was invited to write a short piece inspired by one of eight miniature works of art.
Aissa Lopez’ Miniature (below) made a deep impact on me and prompted my response, Return, which I read as part of the Museum of Miniature’s event at the West Cork Arts Centre in July 2018.
Miniature by Aissa Lopez
Houses shrink. We grow; they shrink. Go back, and everything seems smaller – hence the saying: Never go back. But I always did. Looking for you, probably.
This house, here, was all innocence: licking the wooden spoon when you baked, Fry’s Turkish Delight on Fridays, a big pink teddy bear one Christmas… The one time we had money for Mr Whippy, I was so excited I dropped the ice cream running home.
You handled my despair; Mr Whippy had gone.
This one, then, this is where you entertained in elegant Irish-designed clothes and I turned prankster: hidden bells, collapsing chairs, a hamster stashed in my dolls’ house one April Fools’ that was never seen again … Here, too, I got my first pair of bell-bottoms and stood staring at the mirror, biting my finger – me, in bell-bottoms!
They were tweed, for feck’s sake. Tweed.
The house with the stairs outside – here you suffered and I fell in love. Deeply. He and I, we often lay on the floor in an alcove downstairs, between a room and a room, where you couldn’t surprise us. Nor we you. There was an orange cordial stain on my white bedroom carpet (mea culpa) and I once smashed a door through a wall. Well. A huntsman spider the size of my face was loitering on the back of the toilet door. The flight instinct has muscle.
This was a home of blue skies and water fights, of light and shadow. And lost days.
In the tall, thin house I discovered my writerly self – the one you had detected years earlier – while scribbling on yellow pages, gutted by Italian crooners. One winter’s day, I sat in the orange grove in a porcupine coat and for four hours wept my siblings’ loss. Mine, too.
Here, we spoke our last words.
This – this is the house where you have never been, where the grandchildren you have never known grew up, and where I grow older than you ever were.