2 Maternal Distance My mother left me at the pier once, for five hours on a Sunday. I watched Chinese men gut their fish in the golden afternoon light, traced their shadows with the toes of my shoes, and wondered    when I would see her again. I remember her friend colouring her red hair in our kitchen, the smell of ammonia rising from her scalp, the wet blue slicks of their teeth from two casks of Velluto Rosso, the way the silver foils shivered in her hair as she threw her head back to laugh. She didn’t do that much, but every now and then spontaneity tore through her. Once I found her sitting alone     at the kitchen table     blowing bubbles     in milk through a straw, giggling as the white froth spilled over the glass. She disappeared at Sparks in the Park one year. I found her passed out in the back of our old Corolla, vomit, a collar on her navy woollen jersey    and no way for us       to get home.