It was the first spring our child realised

he had seen other springs

and so had grown his own memories.

'Well — not very long till you are old!' he cried,

with a quarter smile, flummoxed

by his own smug-sad wisdom


and the pain that flew in

through the mind's skylight

was so swift and silvering,

I plunged my nose into the magnolia's bowl,

I plunged it again to the pale spray of wild plum,

its flowers the size of the metal snap-domes

on a baby's stretch 'n' grow;

then asked, 'Do they have a scent? Can you tell?'


He copied. 'Mmmm, they do. It's beautiful,

but it's very, very faint — as if we're looking

out of the backs of our minds.

Or feel it from a hill very far beside the sky.'


As if we can only know some things

at a distance. From years away, say.

Or the granular, woven light of a page.

Emma Neale is a novelist, poet and editor. She had some formative years growing up in California, and she now lives in New Zealand. She is the mother of two vibrant, questioning, excitable and exciting sons: one is 16, one is 8. She has learnt more from them than she did in school.