Not written down in history

The lonely heart

of a girl

who liked her own

kind

is not written down in history

there are few

stories of this

quiet, often eclipsed, furtive, secret

kind of longing

less even spoke aloud or transcribed

for what could be said? Admitted?

Instead, there are, no doubt

trees growing exceptionally redolent

nourished with the grieving, private hearts

of girls throughout history

who buried their flesh

beneath tender roots of a sapling

when it became abundantly clear

their tongues served them no purpose

in speaking of a love

no-one wanted.

These girls … I wonder

about them, sometimes as I tramp

red cheeked and furious

up hill side, when sitting still and

desiring felt like cold bars of a jail cell

seeing above me the wielding kite and her

long expanse, mocking almost with her freedom

for fierce she is, unable to

be anything but predator

time lapses into a series of vignettes

childhood (unknowing/confused) adolescence (odd/ill-fitting)

youth (empty bed/scolded faces of young men who do not understand

why no matter what they do, they endear

not)

older (disappointment/scrolled dating sites, dark bars with groping

strangers, you wouldn’t share a car ride with)

a wish always

for the girl over the moors

her long black hair tumbling like a question mark

the iridescence of her eyes, startling, bold

quit of falseness, a truth enveloping us both

without need of pretense, shyness left in fog

to hold the hand of someone who understands

and wishes to pull you through

where magic still resides in ellipsis and mist.

They do not invite single women of a certain age

to celebrate. When everyone would feel

uneasy, no children to talk about

flourishing career to brag of, she is not anything more than

everything to one person, outside that

sphere, she feels lost, disjointed, unable to fit closely

the pieces of irregularity, between her own wishes

and that of everyone else. They stare at her

over coffee cups, watching as if she were

a different species, something odd and inexplicable

cut at irregular angles, spilling out of bondage

saffron infused thoughts, plastered to her wet head

like a seal exploring depths, her stockings uneven

ragged with snares, mimicking internal

conflict, why she couldn’t pose for the camera

lips pursed in obliging, skirt wrinkle free,

hands hidden beneath cardigan, their

eternal fidget repressed with the incalculable

strength of effort it takes women to remind silent

say nothing, speak not with their roaming eyes

the magnificence of their private entreaty.

Oh to reveal, peal off layers, ransack propriety

and launch, full mast, happy crew, into the ocean

where loving was loving anyone, invited equally

to christenings, thanksgiving, birthday’s

not whispered about; behind fans, fingers, computer

screens, the lascivious imagination of mild mannered

disgust, spread liberally on morning toast.

“What do they DO?” (behind closed doors)

“was she like THAT with you?” (you should be so lucky)

“are they man-haters?” (only if you join in the cacophony)

“her mother must be so disappointed” (eternally).

I’m not disappointed

with you, us, swimming upstream, lily pads, green light

breaking up mosaic thought

bring it on

bring it on

we urge in our confident hour, no longer strange in shadow

by fire, by tokens in dark, wagging their tongues

and then, weary, tired of the fight, we stop

holding hands in public, the glare, a sunburn on

our fragile necks we stay modest, interior

house plants straining for sufficient light

when they don’t invite us, when I remain

alone waiting for you, weeks upon weeks

when stigma is a brand without physical body

it stings as deep, stays as long, heals too slow

it is hard to imagine the words ‘equality’

leaving our lips, and joining the world

in red shoes and jaunty hat, tipped merrily

to the left-hand side, running for a bus

knowing you’ll just make it

if the ground isn’t slippery

if you don’t fall before you’ve got

a firm hold.

The unseen world

At the corner of your mouth, where it curls in gentle distain, a little spiting mirth, lives the unseen world

In your eyes, polished obsidian run through with black onyx, lies the hearth of your internal combustion

As you breathe, I cannot fail to notice the lovely juxtaposition of your bones gleaming beneath apricot skin, as the buttons on your shirt atest, each breath yawning her fitful glimpse

I cannot help but wonder those stored bottles of delight, high upon your shelf, how your nipples would taste, the flowered breath of your heart of palm

And divining central, that pulsing mandala, reaching her fragrance into dreamworld, the color of aubergine and hibiscus bled in winter river as redwood is lost to time

My artichoke girl, wreathed in wild flowers, your body a temple for this supplicant, as light diminishes, your thirsty form grows spectral, a mango tree heavy in fruiting

From within, you glow with the hardy tempest of your nature, a pulsing, feckless creature, nimble in your art of deft possession

If I could starve for want of you, I believe I would. For no moment passes with satisfaction, unless in some way, you exist on its marble periphery

The very yoke of a day is cast by your presence. I could subsist on the rounding detour of your thighs for a hundred sleepless nights

Grow from your slumber the memories of your cries, curled in my ear, my lips, my reincarnation of our slippery motion to capture

When it is cold my hands seek your bright match to kindle animation, climbing from the solace of you, strengthened by remembered, evoked echo of intimacy

A song wound around my ribs as river reeds pull the charmed to their divine drowning and with last sip of air we relinquish control and let go

My love, your eyes bewitch my life blood, kindling the charred rejoinder of hope, a poppet to your sorcerery, emerging from deep forest

When dying comes for me, it’ll be your face I kiss, feverish and familiar, your preternatural smile haunting my passage, faithful ghost, mine

For some there is no method of separation, we are bound in crushed roses to one

In this place. In each other. A languid, yawning soft space between, the unseen world.

Never look back

Amidst worry, distraction, hunger, noise,

there is the brand, the scorch of you

sealing me in wax

pressing me to Florentine paper

sending me by leathered mail

with a longing as woven

as pulp that becomes a letter

writing out felted words

my throat cannot swallow.

The world is burning, in once-removed chaos

I find an unsteady peace, imagining us.

Everything is flammable, people smite each other

with little tools and heavy words

we forget our humanity often

we are caught with our pants down

jacking off to lies & hate in little jars

sometimes it seems the world would fair

better without our penchant for harm

but we subsist, in fragments, shards, pieces

of goodness separated and flung apart.

I should be considering the state of the planet

why it’s searing in October, why people

shoot someone for the color of their skin, how

evil can stand in White Houses and other

necessary questions …

but for this cupped moment, I am idle in my desire to save

not a lack of caring, but rather

the need to step outside the fray and

stand in the rain with you .

The rain here is warm, before we met

I did not know rain could be warm

I lived in a concrete trap with sad faced

buildings that many would give their eye

teeth for and I wished passionately, to escape

from

there was no softness in the city of my birth

no reduction of clamor

we spun like dervish on a wheel

forgetful of what mattered in the perpetual lean

to survive

I am here with you now, although

we are often not together, in my etched soul

you hold me every night and the candle

I placed in my window does not go out

for it burns eternal.

A song will reduce me to tears, driving wet

cheeked and aching for your touch, the surround

of your movement against me, a kiss that consumes

my cold center, turns me to the moon

shining and nude.

We are shimmering fish beneath dark water, finding our way

with our mouths, our fingers, the brail of need

containing sea pearls ready to sacrifice their shell

only you can lift me away from

the sorrows of the world and our many

pitted attempts to remedy what seems to be

our nature

only you can run yourself down my stomach

and opening me like a fan, find within, my

raw chorus

only you, with your pitch eyes and raven heart

can cause me to tumble, weightless over white cliffs

into our own private film

playing the days of our lives, for an empty house

the tick of our time, slowing now.

I should clean my teeth, brush my hair, push my

cuticles back and cross my legs in public, but for

the need to wear no hose, and driving 70mph down

empty streets, push you into me, finding

piano keys beneath our lilting surface.

By day I am a plain-faced woman with

ill-fitting bra and the marks of time sponged

on my face like imprints from a wild cat

who walked over me once, twice, forever

as you pull me from the world with your

electricity and I urge you

implore

to not

to never

look back.

Don’t go home tonight

Don’t go home tonight

don’t leave this warm circle we built with our skin and bones

I killed an ant earlier and I felt badly

as I had watched it climb up a book and grab on to a little morsel

it has always made me feel remorseful for killing even the smallest creature

I don’t eat flesh for that reason

aside, you, I eat you, feast upon, alive and laughing your deep throated mirth

it never occurred to me one day I would have in my arms

the vibrating surround of a whole woman

the majesty of her glory, how she shifts like light

from somber to ejubilent in the fracture of a moment

women are not easy creatures, to tame a little, or keep satisfied

their minds, their bodies, are compartments of mystery

open the same drawer twice, out comes a different response

I will never understand or fathom, your maze of contradictions

that may be half the pleasure, for we who are simple clay

love the complexity and madness that is your fire

your dimpled skin and reddened throat leaning backward to my entreaty

the sounds you make, when I bring you close

a high keening like joy is just out of focus, a mayfly touching surface

I hold those memories inside me like water

crossing the empty desert of a day without you

night comes and goes as fast as pleasure

resisting my petition to remain static and eternal

if it would just slow and stay, I’d render you speechless in slow movement

the stirring of cream into coffee, languorous and ancient in ritual

until you flung yourself back into enervated ocean

where together we met beneath water and the whole world

was lit from beneath us

my love, asseyez-vous à côté de moi. faire battre mon cœur

stay

stay with me tonight

let us both be lulled into believing

morning does not need to dawn

Untouchable

l.

I slept though I did not sleep

onboard the memory of you

wrapped around my legs

entwined we touched, we did things

in real life we would not

like thirsty vines found purchase

I wake hot with a sore-throat

for calling you in dream

you stay just far enough away to be

exquisite, painful

still, you are with me

all throughout this fatigued day

my hair matted with thought of your voice, your mouth

heart faster for desire unspoken

recollections like film reel

thin wrists, strong arms, long neck

slender back of an archer sending her arrow

colt legs as brown as sundown eclipsing

autumn leaves

the bedroom lure of your perfumed eyes

I saw it years ago and it pierced me

as keenly as a real knife might

cut through something willing and laid it open

to conquest

I said nothing then,

my tongue in my mouth

longing to taste yours

stays quiet, stays quiet, stays quiet

for to break the spell

is to wake.

ll.

If magnolia trees did not take an eternity

to bloom

I’d plant one and plant you

watching your volumineuse petals

open and fracture

my thirsting heart

with your uncertain entreaty

I lie awake at night

unable to breathe, to sleep, to be still

able only to replay

the expressions of your face

with such easy unconscious grace

my cheeks burn from laughing

smiling, it is as if

a new sun was born in the softness of your hair

one in which I felt desire

something hidden in dark too long

my hands tied, I sit in a high backed

chair sipping my penance, my lack of ability

to ever be close to your ideal

for I have never competed and I will not

share you with all the others

trying not to be noticed when I glance

again and again, at your smooth legs and arms

why weren’t you mine all along?

I had thought so then and now

wordless, I did nothing

for you are made of crystal

catching all colors

my prism is just one

I will the rain to come

drench us both, obliterate sound

words I would say if I could,

if I could

if I could

silenced, in downpour

I walk away

I stay, watching you

until you are the storm in my eyes

or tears, growing their want

ever, untouchable.

Heed

I resent

No, I am angry

It is my regret that

You steal my thoughts

every day

even as you do not really

exist

damn

you.

Is it my wield to wake and smell the coming

of Autumn, her combed wild intruding on Summer’s

last heady retreat

and with her, all the memories of us

tumbling like leaves of every color.

You are a shade of me I cannot forget, nor

am I able to extricate your taste from my soul

as if you were the darkest liquor and I, the thirsting

sinner.

We do not know one another, yet in this russet world

where people step out with reddened cheeks and think of

night as a place to venture deep and become lost in

the reflecting faces of glasses brought together

I recognize in you, someone I need.

It is foolish then, that you will never know this,

as time reveals a betrayal, thick in coming like smoke

from a burned pyre

I see you there, in the crowd of onlookers, your

shoulders thin in a cardigan, eyes dark against

flames, a smile on your face as if

without my saying you knew

it was my heart that burned with longing

and your hands

putting out the fire

with the coldness

of disregard.

You steal my thoughts every day

as if, possessed of confidence that all should

fall at your knees, you hold the world and its

caprices in your little flowering hand

sometimes I want to ask; How did you become

so fat on yourself? Who gave you that belief

you were worthy? And bitterness might add;

I am better than this, better than you,

not someone used to, or wanting to remain

subject. Inhaling your sugar pill …

Instead I say nothing and spells

boil off like alcohol leaving nothing but

clear water, I plunge into and try to

forget the nagging impulse to find ways of altering

your hooded intractability.

I live in the crossword puzzle of your

eyes, the bewitchment of your fruiting mouth

as you open your lips and speak, drowned

out by time and distance

I think nevertheless

I hear.

You steal my thoughts

every day

I once wore self-belief like a rosary

around my wrists and counted every

subject. You took on the role as if

those clothes had been yours all

along and I had been carved from

the wood of your ancestors tree

some type of mango tree or

something as bright and hungering

as your skin when sunlight bathes

your full cheeks and I forget how

to swallow. Our fates are written

in secret alcoves we may never find

the chapter, until it is upon us and

falling in line, we play out our part

in this incantation you master me

because you feel nothing and no

words I possess will fill that

empty place and fetch from it

an urge to dive with me

into the wet of my angry tears

perhaps this is karma

it could however,

be just, a passing cruelty

like so many other things

forgotten by those, who do not stop

long enough, to

pay heed.

We weep with everything but tears

photo of woman wearing nude one piece swimsuit
Photo by Jo Kassis on Pexels.com

Go in good faith

down that charred road

where holy mist

cusps day in feathered glove

the porcelain eyes of hills pay obedience to mauve cloud

trees taller than sound break through

smudges of dream wave in memoriam,  shuttering day

and O

je ne sais pas aimer sans toi. Je ne sais pas comment me passer de toi.

We speak in furled tongues our inner most thoughts

leaving confessionals on mossy rocks and the lay of light rain

full with sleep, the direction lost in tug of war with blackening ice

they slip beneath against hush of snow

covering our tracks with blanched fingers of ice.

We weep with everything but tears.

 

Still so changed

lungsThought I saw you today

resting on the cream tile beside our silver fridge

a sign of my eyes seeing ghosts or fading out?

The doctor said; Watch for ink marks and sudden black spots

just like your coat, as you leaned in to clean eternal

not you, this time, or ever more

only my shoes and socks, black and white as

your fur

recalling when we traveled, back when we could

before lock-downs, before freedom was something nobody

took for granted

how in the arroyo of the desert we climbed

cactus flowers and box turtles, lazy sunbathing snakes

finding purchase of indigo rock

how my spirit felt released in that stark landscape

greater than any city, eclipsing us

as you searched for things to kill and torture

though you possessed a kind heart

a little metaphorical

a little incidental?

Our bid for escape, as now we are closed and shut up

you lying beneath red earth, turning to desert

I am still above ground

wondering at times, for what?

Another road trip? None would be you

nor would freedom taste quite as sweet

though I expect when released

people will emerge

dazed and half willing

shaking off their forgotten selves

staring about for stars and clothes

meaning and fireworks

just the same

as it ever was

and still so changed

and still so very

changed.

And tell her to stay

cotton-in-braille

My mother sits on the side of the bed, it is 1980 or 1999 or never or sometime in the seventies or perhaps she’s not really there …

Her indent remains after the door closes, after the light is extinguished in the green hall way, where usually people go to sleep and she goes away, away, away …

Even then I could not see well, I squint into the half light, I look at the painted gypsy caravan wardrobe my parents picked up in a flea market before I was born, the cheap thin wood which now, years later, would be considered ‘antique’ – oh the absurdity of those things.

I think of them, crouching on elastic knees, abundant youth, painting, red and blue and yellow. I think of the song I learned in nursery about a rainbow, I think about gays appropriating rainbows later on and how ‘gay’ is not how most of us felt. How appropriation is always ironic.

When I began to stop wetting the bed, my father bought a calendar and stuck it on my wall, he would let me stick stars on the days I did not wet the bed, when I got enough stars he said, something great would happen. It had to be better than the machine I’d had the year before that ‘buzzed’ when I wet the bed and woke me up. I didn’t see how sesame seeds and electric buzzers would stop any child peeing in their nightmares.

A week later I opened my curtains, there was a stuffed toy rabbit on the windowsill, it was slightly damp from being there all night, and it smelt like fur and home. I still have it. It still has me. I never named it. How do you give a name to the earning of pain?

We lived in a basement, it was moldy in the Winter and cool in the Summer. I couldn’t see the sky, I grew to like the idea of living underground, of burrowing deep into the earth beneath city concrete, where the bodies murmured against river mud. I believed in Ghosts. Ghosts most certainly believed in me, they were my companions.

They shimmered past in half-light, caught in doorways and shining windows and dour corners. They contorted into devils by the astigmatism of my eye, becoming faces with fangs, fingers reaching upward. I wondered even then, why I feared the unseen more than the seen. Why what was not real felt more real than real? How ghosts could become my torment, when the world outside felt equally remorseless? Why not put them away and tackle that which existed? Perhaps that is exactly why. For a child who did not know how to make things right.

My wardrobe was little for a child, I was little for a child, my bones were plastic and breakable, they snapped when I folded myself tightly into corners, and the four cheap velour rabbits bought one Easter sat alert and watchful on the windowsill with a half moon shining in and lighting the face of the wardrobe into a grimacing creature.

The rabbits and I heard things. We saw things. Through bad eyes and deaf ears. The sound of my mother leaving, her presence skirting the room like a flamingo dancer, her lithe form, her long graceful arms with impossibly thin wrists, the smell of her on my skin because I was born of her, and then born not at all.

A clock did not exist on the wall, it did not tick down time, it did not remind us of what we had lost, it was not there, it left only the outline of its being like a circle set by sunlight on fading paint. A sundial without hands, without notion of time. Existing as planets exist, not realizing they circle the other.

My clothes grew tight as I elongated and sloughed the years, I kept an empty bottle of my mother’s eye make up remover by my bed, it smelt of her, as her hairbrush did, I wondered how she could live without her hairbrush. I did not wonder how she could live without me.

The tenants of the tall building were unhappy and they smiled a lot to cover it up. They said things like; We will be glad to look after your little girl. When my father cycled away, relieved, lighter, seeking a woman, seeking freedom, I stood on the doorstep and watched and the ache in my chest felt like a piece of lead piercing unnamed parts and I thought of my mother, how when she was my age she watched her parents sail back to Africa whilst she stayed still and I realized … how she and I were interchangeable and only the years were different.

Once, my mother said her mother put perfume on a handkerchief and left it for her and she kept it under her pillow. I kept my mother’s hairbrush under mine, it smelt of the oil of her curly hair, and the damp of my tears and the dust of time, sweeping her skirts along the empty floor.

I am alone now. As I was then. It feels the same. It feels worse because there is no illusion. Nothing like the future to hide behind and solace yourself with. No ‘things will be better when you grow up’ after you have grown up and realized they are not.

Again we are back in my bedroom. She is standing up. She is sitting down. The moment of her departure is fuzzy like my eye sight and I tell her, in years to come I will lose my eye sight and you will gain yours and my father will still be cycling away not knowing they piled on top of me and beat me to pieces, or that three little boys could throw marbles so viciously until a little girls heart burst and she ran away.

She turns to me and says something but it was twenty years ago. It was never. It was yesterday and I cannot see what she says or how she says it, to know if it was meant or just words spilled onto temporary carpet. I cannot know because she did not know, and our act was just a part of a grander outcome, both of us have forgotten and remembered many times since.

I love her in a way that slices through the fat and gets to the bone. I love her in a way I cannot articulate meaningfully but she knows and that’s the worst part, she knows. Maybe ever since I have found my father’s bicycle and learned to follow his trail, looking for her, looking for myself, seeking the way out of the high rise and the pinching boys and the ugliness that turns away when they see what is happening because maybe they are glad.

It is a day later, a year later, a decade past. We sit on roof tops in the weak sun and eat boiled sweets. Ants pick at our toes, dandelion’s die and float in their seed form to be wished upon and we leave them alone, already knowing, wishes are foibles.

You say it won’t hurt but it does and I knew it before it happened but I let it happen because of the ache inside that needed anything, even if it was pain.

The roof top is strewn with the debris of childhood, and my mother’s brush no longer smells of her, it goes through my hair like it was only my straight, boring hair it had to brush its entire life, as if she never existed and we did not sit on the bed together, the curtains closed nearly completely, only a hint of darkness spilling through.

If I had remembered I would have told her then, do not leave me when the time comes in twenty years, do not say goodbye a second, a forth, a nineteenth time. No matter what you think I have done, how disappointed you are in me, what disgust you hold in your heart. Instead remember this, the moment we sat quietly and I put my hand in yours and said it was okay and you cried and I cried from then until forever, without using my eyes or my ears or my mouth.

My father is cycling away from me, he is squinting ahead as if he sees something worth seeing, and I am turning, watching my mother close the door, asking that it be left open just a crack, to let the light in, hearing her steps in the corridor, not quite believing she will never come back. Because children always believe in magic. And Ghosts. And Monsters. And boys with marbles in their cheeks and demons in their eyes.

When I woke next to you and you asked me if I had a bad dream, I watched you as you sank back down into sleep and your hair fell across the pillow, the tangle and darkness of it against white linen. You could have been her, I could have been him, we could have never had a child, I ask you not to, please, do not, I don’t need to be born.

That’s why I was late, and why you struggled for 40 something hours in labor, they should have cut you, small as you were, small like me, but they didn’t, maybe it was cruelty, we have seen a lot of that in our life haven’t we and it wouldn’t surprise either one of us, or maybe it was the belief that women were strong enough no matter what, and we know that to be true also, even as we think it’s a damn shame sometimes.

You were strong enough and I was strong enough – to survive or endure but never really thrive – maybe you did – perhaps you were the only one who could – I had my eyes set on a future that never came, and a bicycle turning the corner, and my grandmother waving me from the street as I climbed the stairs to my class, and just as she turned to go, I ran back and I came outside and called her name and she said; Why aren’t you going to your classroom? And I wanted to say; Why would I go into a classroom? I’m not going to learn anything there? I have learned more here sitting on this bed, watching my mother leave, hearing her say things she did not say, wishing I were as powerful as the God of the wardrobe and not being able to eat my marzipan frog she brought me last. Because she gave it to me and I could not consume it and for it to be gone.

And you would have understood because you had your emotions close to your skin as I have, which makes you easily despised and sometimes admired. Because you were a coward as I have been, letting her be crushed by your absence and thinking it nothing at all, when you set sail again and again leaving her with a handkerchiefand a loneliness the size of Africa. I could not fill that loneliness although good God I tried many, many times, but when you break someone, you can put them back together, it does not mean they can hold anything you then pour into them.

She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, and that from a child who didn’t yet know how to lie. I compare my lovers to her now. Wonder if they could beat her at chess and laugh because I know they could not. Think on how she managed to stay strong even in the harshest currents, when I cannot always stand without leaning. I look nothing like her, there is only sometimes in the cast of light, a glint of her in my eyes, looking back and when I see it, I ask her, why didn’t you spit me out before I was whole, so that you never had to be disappointed and I never had to lose you, then and now and never.

My grandmother taught me to swim in a basement, I dreamed the river would break its banks and my little home would be drowned. I dreamed my father was on the bottom bunk and I on the top and every time the water receded he was lifeless and I could do nothing, except scream impotently underwater for him to live. My grandmother died before I was old enough to let her know the truth, that I was not her grandchild but a water sprite dredged up from the river mud and set to swimming in dreams not of my own. That I had no parents but the marzipan figurines of night terrors and mares and I peed in my bed until I was too old to tell and old enough to lie.

Learning to swim was the only thing I learned fast and well, everything else came slow and difficult, just like trying to love someone who doesn’t love you, or expressing things too painful for words. I could sit with my parents and paint my wardrobe but I could never, ever, close the chink of light coming in from the slightly opened curtains, spilling on the floor where she walked across, soundlessly, growing dim and incomplete like the china dolls set back on a distant shelf somewhere.

Now I wear heavy glasses and even that is not enough, I cannot drive at night, I see things that are not there, and do not see what is. I think that is quite ironic really all things considered. My stomach hurts to think of how easily the brush goes through my hair, and how girls with curly hair never needed hairbrushes, so how hers became mine, seems like it always was, and the bottles she left behind were empty when she was here, when she was gone, when she never was.

If one day I am asked, I will say, I tried my best, I learned to swim well and I could pick up one of those weighted bricks from the bottom of the azure swimming pool but nobody came to see me swim so I did not compete well and soon I gave it up altogether. I will say I remember my grandmother running after a man who had broken in to watch us swim and bellowing at the top of her voice she scared him off, all 5’1 of her. I think my mother would laugh at that story, she has a wonderful laugh, it lights up her face and makes everyone else in the room join in.

We will not invite the shadows, we will not ask the ghouls or the disappointments to attend. We will stay the two of us, and wait it out. The past, the present and the future. We will talk on other things and not linger on those that prick and make us bleed. We will circumvent the pain like a sleeping lion and I will make her smile at my stories, the way I did once, once some time, some where. I have forgotten exactly when. The two of us, so alike and so different, sisters, strangers, with love the size of a river, with regret as deep as a drowning. Things never said on the tip of my tongue, burning with love, as we are quiet on the edge of the bed, with my mother about to leave and yet, still there, and me, always leaning, leaning towards her. Wanting to reach out. And tell her to stay.

The fixation & the vexation

susan seddon bouletSometimes there is an unbuckling of

temper and fear and loathing

mixed into indigo and strewn

in furied air

we pick it up as

a smell long forgotten

taps long dormant senses

and despite the years, regain

a moment mislaid

your arms doused with powder

glittering like another being, turning,

you, spectral and otherworldly

an afterglow of fiesta, a street

littered with signs of party goers

their tossed colors, a mélange of remembrance

we grind and mash and rearrange

clothes strewn in multi color love letters

on unpolished floor

seeking to find in electrified connection

that dizzying light

buoying briefly from surface

telling of depths few venture

where usually we rest, bobbing and sailing

absent of passion, thinking like the face of a clock

about slow steady movement, predictable pauses

spasms only in the imagination

or when a familiar song stirs a disquiet

whilst below, in regions beneath our reach

gained access through mutual need

briefly like the flick of a match

sets sulphur stalking cold corridors

only there, unbeknownst to the world

and her grave tick-tock visage

we earn closer, sloughing skin, molecules

separating individuals, ages, castles, skies

until on the windswept summit we fall

clutching each other in entreaty and relief

fading from sight, resisting wholeness

becoming starlight

only then, your damp hand caught

somewhere inside me, my bruised

lips smarting with the pressure of

cascading into earths center

do we know a place that is only ours

where we are pre-Denisovan and

holy, beneath the candle of a human’s

little watched life

that shallow wick, curved in entreaty

for meaning, for Gods, for monsters

and your rounding stomach, wet with tears

salt and oxygen and loss like a tableau

of everything, a table set for two

we sit obedient and fatigued

the lines of us, drawn before we arrive

breaking outside the cast, little cracks

small fizzures

with the fixation and vexation

of mortal love.