That's where you'll find me...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Quiet

You bring the quiet.
A peaceful offering to lay at my feet:
it unfurls
and its tendrils wind ribbons
round my limbs,
holding me close to the earth.

I can hear her breathing.
Tilt my cheek to feel the warmth
of her exhale

You bring the quiet.
Calm the clattering riot of thoughts
with their knives,
and bottles with rags lit
poised at shoulder
to fly and shatter in fire.

I can hear them breathing.
muzzled mouths, with iron brows
smudged black with hate

You bring the quiet.
Flying by stealth to the furthest point:
the searing light
of the desert sun
where I lay buried,
my body adrift in sifted glass.

I can hear my breathing
and then the sound of sinking down
beneath the crust

You bring the quiet.
Find my hand in the smallest hour,
in your sleep,
and anchor gently this
scattered creature
in night and day's creeping dawn.

I can hear you breathing.
We keep time without thought
And I can sleep, lion-like.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I watched her drown. There was little else to do. She broke the surface, splintered and sunk. It was a driving rain of wood and rivets cascading to the ocean floor. I saw lanterns extinguish as the pressure cracked the glass. I saw men burst from her belly fighting, then limply fall. I heard their voices finish in their throats. Their hearts stop.
And then the melancholy drift, down. Darkness swallowed all of them, and her, whole.
I could have saved a soul. But I was caught in the net of disaster. I could only watch dumbly, adrift in the current, safe in its strength. Had I swum closer, I too would have been pinned in the wreckage. And I've had my fair share of hurt and of saving, and of failing to save. Some will continue to smudge their black marks across my belly for that. Blame is the poison, and rage is the cure. Their vehemence so acidic that I can taste it in my mouth. And so I choose to swim separate.
I saw those men, their boot buckles flashing in shafts of lightning, clutching their rum bottles and silver plates til they lost their breath and their grip. I am one, and they were many, and I am slow. And the sea steals her men so quickly. She's such a hungry whore when the storms break over her head. They ignite the appetite of her entire being for bloody murder. She hears no one when she's locked in that desire. And those who die hear nothing but her rushing through them in their final terrifying moments.
That is how she stole him.
Brute force. A feast on a fragile spirit.
He had come to find me. Returning home from the great wars in the Atlantic. Bearing a spear in the side and lacerations, his skin sheared off in great welts. He had heard me. He always heard me. Mid battle with a tribe, full flight fathoms below. Tearing through dark and through the bodies of enemies. I'd merely cried out as I wept with loneliness. It was the child in me, come to break my back and banish me to the deepest blue. I was selfish to want him there. But he is my twin, my protector and had protected me much. He would never fail me. And I wanted him home, safe.
It took three days for him to return. He hugged the depths. It was almost daylight when he began his ascent. And there was a storm mounting above - a swirling mire, shooting sparks. It was gathering its strength with every mile, charged and vengeful. Someone had done some hideous wrong and there was a debt to be paid. Some sacrifice of flesh to be made. I could hear him now. The sluicing and exhale, though he was labored - so much so I almost didn't recognise him. I stopped still in the half light, stopped breathing to hear.
Lightning struck the surface. Lit up his face. Then the tide turned.
She was dealing her hand.
His full shape appeared in the dark in the briefest of moments - illuminated in the electricity.
I took in little more than his wounds and the silver flash of his eyes. In a raging, rolling wall of swell, he was swept upwards and churned over my head. I too was nearly knocked senseless and fought with every ounce of my strength in the wash, blinded by bubbles of air, kelp wrapping around my neck and filling my mouth. I screamed for her to stop but I was pulled into the forest. Down there she held me close. Through the leathered tendrils I watched him come apart. Far off in some horrific nightmare. Acres in between here and there. But the smell of his blood was as real as the sound of him in pain, ricocheting from surface to sand.
Until the echoes stopped and there was nothing more from him.
Just her. Screaming for her kill. Banshee murderess with bloodied talons.
And his name scraping my throat raw and wracking my chest.

Yes, I watched the wreck sink.
All I could see was him.
And now both have been lost to her.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


My father disappeared, swallowed like a ship in the mist.
The Cape of Good Hope had claimed him.
Strange given he felt he had none.
I had to search for him - his shape barely there in Winter light. His silence his disguise.
He sunk into his chair by the porthole, staring out to sea. Watching her in her calm or agitated fury or deep unrest. She was his mirror but he was her servant. A slave to her moods, her bouts of violence - it was when she lashed our walls in rage that he could feel his heart in his chest. Fear would spark in his mind and pull him into alertness. She swept right through him and left him strung out to dry on the rocks. There he was exhausted, sullen and salt-crusted.

We shared breakfast on Sundays. Poached egg on toast, a cup of billy tea with brown sugar. I begged him to talk. I scraped my knife on the plate. Dropped yolk down my front. Slurped my tea. I knew better than to speak to him directly. It seemed I had asked too much of him too early and had worn him out. His words came months apart now. And I never knew in which direction they'd fly..
would it be the disappointment of a sharp order?
"Cut the light Ana"
(relief that he remembered my name)
or the knotted tales of seamanship?
"Walls of water blacking out the moon, the lurching, the heaving of our stomachs and the stench of it... we should have been snapped in half, pulled to the bottom. I don't know why she spared us."
Blurred snapshots. I never knew him, but I felt our blood - we shared that much. So surely I should be able to find my way to him? Scour the waves - listening for the rushing in his veins.

my father disappeared, swallowed like a ship in the mist.
He wasn't far at sea. He was here with me in the dead of Winter.
I didn't hear his footsteps echoing down the spiral. The last I knew he was keeping the light, scouring the bleak horizon as the storm clouds gathered over the rugged hem of the South.
He must have waited hours for the wind to lift, the waves to mount, all he needed to drown himself out. Mask his descent, the turning of his key in the latch, the wash and rain pouring in onto the flagstone. He would have timed his departure waiting for her recoil, arched to attack.
Slammed the door behind his back
Stepped out to the gap in the railings where our boat once docked.
Seconds before her tremendous force collected him
burst his iron lungs
and sent him spiraling in a seagreen blur.

He left me this lighthouse
and I still search for him in the night.

Friday, May 28, 2010

To Expire.

The curve of her spine in brocade sheen makes a crescent moon in the midnight of her room. Crumbling with age and grief, her skin falls in folds over her bones. Her breath echoes in the cave of her chest. She is drowning in her wedding dress. It is pulling her to the dusty floor to die.
Over years - breath in and out - she has unraveled her husbands clothes by a single thread. Woven tiny squares with bird-like hands and sewn them to her hem. They are bound together in her long, slow release of life. He lost his too soon and she is losing hers too late.
She doesn't eat the food I bring.
She doesn't see the shape of her room.
She drinks only from a bowl of her tears. The heat steals them in Summer. Winter is just as cruel. I know that the last drops will herald her departure.
I don't know how old she is or how she can still be alive. I try and bring her things that might unlock a door in her mind. Flash light from the periphery. A dragonfly in a jar. A vase of wildflowers. A honey-scented candle in the evenings.
I cannot bring her back. But I cannot leave her alone in this.


There is a tiny creature who comes to me red breasted and fine feathered.
She pecks at the dirt between the floor boards. Gets caught in the curtains - the sallow sheets of our abandoned bed that save me from the light of day. They turn this room to perpetual dusk. Time's tick is leaden. Beneath it I hear her tiny feet clicking on the wood. She is the only thing that stirs here. I don't know why she seeks company. I am no companion.
I can only cry and weave and wait...
I want for nothing else.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Choose Silence.

My voice and I are estranged.
Our separation was not born of some cataclysmic event or fierce argument. It was the nameless kind - a distance driven by a lack of need, of passion. A knowing that words would never again be enough. We stood facing each other but couldn't see eye to eye. Something was fractured beyond repair. And with the silence came the strange calm in my mind. No longer the racket of words falling all over themselves, tangled and bleeding at the knees. Just voices growing faint. Then quiet.
Day by day I felt myself reeled out into empty space, further and further away from those anchors we cling to drowning. Three meals a day. Phone calls to distant relatives. The brushing of teeth before bed. The obligatory kisses on cheeks for those with whom we are affectionate. Well worn paths between bathroom and bedroom, house and institution. I had wanted to be free of these affectations for as long as I could feel the structure they imposed. The crushing weight of their empty tradition. Their rigidity forced my soul to petrify.
And then what need had I for a voice, a body or a mind?
Silence brings the only liberty I could hope for, for deep within it I travel elsewhere. Away from mother and the key she wears around her neck. Away from the tutor who brings books tied together with string and an endless barrage of objects delineated by gender. Away from the restless memory of my father. In silence I can disappear for hours at a time. Spirit myself down to the street in the middle of the night. Walk the deserted road barefoot. Feel the icy bitumen numbing me to my ankles and see my breath blue in the street light. Feel the breeze that shakes the maple leaves from their moorings and sends them spinning to the ground. Find the crooked letterbox with it's collapsed roof, numbers falling. Pass through the faint glow from his window into the shadow of the lavender. Watch him kneeling on the floor in his dim front room pinning photographs to his walls. Image upon image. Creating a map of shifting colour and shape. Stringing together stories. Breathe with him through long moments of stillness. He searches for something more. For the most minute of detail. For the myriad of secrets people reveal without words. And I long for him to search for me. Hold me captive in a static image for just long enough to unpick the lock. He could unravel truth from fear silently.
Simply the ease of breathing it all in. Of seeing eye to eye. Of standing face to face. Of pressing palm to palm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Night Music

I often find myself here floating on my back in the dark. Midnight long since struck. Weightless. Waiting. Watching for any creeping light. Listening to this ancient house breathe. It's bones creak. But there's something that has wound its way around me. From somewhere, a far flung corner above, comes that faint string of sound. Low and precise. Barely a beginning or an end. It sets something alight behind my brow. I have searched his room for an instrument. Pulled tattered violin cases from under his bed, behind his wardrobe and found only remnants. A slender neck, a tuning peg, a bow shedding horse hair. All too worn to fit together and create something living...

In the mornings he is deathly still.
I hold a mirror to his mouth just to be sure, for he can't even be heard.
He's never spoken a word to me although I have nursed him since I was a child. On the first day of every Spring I scrub his dank room with Bergamot. Hope to cast some sort of spell to bring him back to this life. I tried once to open his dust laden curtains to allow a small sliver of light to illuminate his eternal dark.
He screamed like a hung cat. The sliver driven straight into his brain. His body electrified in seizure - fingers clawing at his milky eyes and tearing his skin.
I didn't sleep for days, his terror ringing in my ears and reverberating in my chest.

The change to a perfect third above. The salt water of the ocean on which I'm afloat is drawn through my hollow chest, my arid throat and mouth to spill into my caverns of my eyes. The overflow soaking my hair, my pillow and mattress and dripping onto the floor. Puddles quickly turn to lake. The slow and steady rise of the tide swallowing piles of books, a birdcage, my father's top hat and gloves. It's warm and I can feel it sealing in my ankles and wrists, pooling in the hollow of my neck. It reaches my mouth, claims my cheekbones and forehead, finding its origins and I am suspended in it.
And it's quiet.
And it's touch.
And I can breathe.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Down the Garden Path

Opening the front door takes two hands and what little strength remains in my legs and arms. Over the years it seems I'm fading with the wallpaper, sinking beneath a century of dust. Everything within this house is in hibernation, yet outside...
These rare sounds. The pained yielding of wood and rusted hinges. Then the cacophony of crazed insects multiplying and devouring each other. The spill of burning sunlight casts my lank shadow down the length of the hall as I toppled blindly down the steps. A crow sighs in exasperation from the bare branches of an apple tree. It is one of thousands guarding this house - old ladies with knitting needles wilting with age and heat, their hair fallen out. I wish I had the water to breathe new life into them. Plump them up. The smell of blossoms is a lost memory now. I can still see them though, raining after season and gleaming in the sunrise. The hue of my mother's lipstick in the afternoons. She remained calm in her colour until the strike of seven, then she was scarlet and wound up in ribbons. I had no such things to keep me caught. I learnt how to disappear as soon as I could read the predatory movements of that pride of men, starved by war. Their teeth bared as she walked the tightrope above them, all figure and wit and desperate for their adoration.
My mother knee deep in things silently living was a rare sight.

I walk to the outhouse amidst swarming anthills. Crunching through the grass and staring into the cracks in the soil. The weatherboard hut has a precarious lean and its skin is sloughing off. The tap stopped dripping months ago and the jam jar I once used to collect water has rings of evaporation lining its girth. I struggle with the rusted tap to eke out a dribble to cool the glass. A painful vessel but it's the only one I have.
There is nothing living to feast on anymore. But there is a dragonfly I've had my eye on. A worthy pursuit. We've been watching each other for days now from a distance. He's been teasing me with the flashes from his wings. Quite dazzling to a creature of the dark like me. As he dances around the hut stretching time, I bide mine. Rest on the pile of rotting logs by the door, little one... I was blessed with both stillness and light quickness. The arc of my arm is swift in it's capture and he finds himself surprised, encased in thick glass. He is brilliantly magnified. And he sits still, admiring himself no doubt.