- Vol. 08
- Chapter 09
An ancient bottle, it has been used – year in, year out – for generations. The cork has been replaced many times over. So old the sides lean, giving it the appearance of having imbibed its contents.
It is pitted and has bubbles under its skin.
The label is new from the supermarket. Anonymous preprints, tiny spaces to scrawl the year, the grape.
A faux watercolour, as if handmade.
It has travelled the world. This vessel, with all its imperfections and blemishes, has crossed oceans, over and over.
Papa and Nana sailed for America and carried a drop of the Old Country with them, to toast a new beginning far away.
Nana grew all sorts of fruit in her yard and bottled cordials each year, gathering newer bottles to give away. Bottles at Christmas given to the postman, the landlord, the dustman. The priest.
Carefully labelled – ingredients translated into English – and gifted with unreciprocated respect.
Keeping the old wobbly bottle for the family.
Eventually there was enough for trips back – family parties and big events. The Feasts and Rites visits. And the bottle went too. Ritually wrapped in towels and shawls, the core of the packing with its wax-dipped cork and oilcloth sleeve.
Cordial out – but spirited back – nothing to declare, nothing to see here. Memories of endless tables of plenty, music, dancing, and chatter – oh the chatter – and the sensation that even though blood was thicker than water, the wide sea had diluted ours discernibly.
Continuity dwelling djinn-like in an ancient bottle, carted across the Atlantic uncounted times. Filled and refilled, labeled and re-labeled, many times over.
Fragile and broken in a heartbeat.