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

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.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Arrival of Winter.

I have been harbouring a little dream...  And it seems fitting on a night like this all saturated streets, clouds hanging low.  It's mid-May and Winter has finally arrived on the doorstep with a burst suitcase - soggy scarfed and woolen beanie in the eyes.  I'm very happy to see him.  We've only been friends for a short while but he is most welcome - a breath of fresh air. He's always a little bit grumpy but I think that's only because he doesn't get a chance to work his magic here. No snow to throw at snotty children.  No sleet to freeze into sheets of unforgiving ice.  He is bound to a rather limited canon of rumpled cloud cover, smatterings of rain and the odd frosted field...  He has much more creative liberty in the far reaches of North and South.  But despite his unkempt appearance and grumbling I invite him in for a pot of spiced tea and a biscuit.  He tells me all about packing up house, his arthritic fingers, his frosty relations with Summer.  I tell him to take his fish oil and that she is far too young for him: he will end up a cuckhold.  It's something he has to hear.  She's been staying out late and lending her warmth to everyone.... it's certainly no secret.  He goes quiet and sniffs.
"I would prefer not to be alone."  
"You'll never be alone.  There are too many of us who like you.  You bring comfort and closeness -"
"Late in the evenings.  In the mornings, when the sun rises."
"Are you less alone when there is only the promise that she might grace you with her presence and then, through mysterious disappearance, does not?"
"Winter.  You are a good man and maybe there is someone who might treat you as such."
He asked me whether I feared being alone.  I told him that I felt loved and cherished and had plenty of wonderful people close to me who coloured my world.  But some part of me would always be alone, always crave the simplicity of that.  He asked me whether I would choose that. I told him I had been harbouring a little dream...  Every night I would climb a hundred steps, echos keeping time.  I'd carry a lantern and watch the flying patterns of shadows dance across the walls.  Hear the squalls hurling themselves against the sandstone, panes of glass shivering, ocean ravenous.  I'd climb to a landing with a narrow wooden door. Lift the heavy latch and nudge it open... In this tiny room at the top of the world I'd reach out to touch the louvered glass globe that sat daytime dark.  Take the wooden match from the ledge, catch fire from my lantern and send the spark into the globe.  Suddenly the night sun would light up and begin to spin slowly on its axis and the ships would be kept at bay for yet another night.
He smiled as though he understood.
He started telling me a story of growing up under the Auroras, but sent himself to sleep halfway through...