Unbidden

Fragments of memories come and go unbidden:

The bitter taste of cheap coffee against a mild hangover and the bulk of wool and neoprene against the bitter cold, joking with my brother as we prepare for an early morning duck shoot. The redolent smell of tack leather and the red stain of clay on my boots, saddling the horses with my father in the humid Georgia August. The October flame of the Blue Ridge’s maples and the all-consuming rush of its whitewater, paddling the Upper Green with my good-for-nothing paddling buddies.

Unremembered for years, they materialize distilled and clear, these memories. As precipitously as they surface, they fade, replaced by another memory, or by the present. Where do the memories come from, I wonder, and where do they go? With no apparent cause, they appear, fill my mind, and vanish. Lost moment to moment, disoriented to the present, I am only brought to the present by a sharp command. “Nthate Thabo, dumedisa,” the madala – a grandfather – orders, “Father Thabo, greet me.”

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