You are engraved in the lines on the ceiling
You are engraved in the eyes that I love
You are not quite poverty
Because the poorest lips condemn you
With a smile
Love of kindly bodies
Power of love
Whose politeness surges
Like a bodiless monster
Sadness beautiful face
P. Eluard (The Immediate Life)
In the morning there is a veil of redness draped across my eyes. I lie enjoying the peace which comes after waking in a new room, when I don’t know where or who I am.
The sheets are heavy. I push them off. As I dress, I think back to the night before. I dreamed that I was a whale, and I kept on trying to find someone I knew but they kept on being the wrong kind of whale for my purposes. Then I got lost in the deep and saw a gigantic, ancient hammerhead shark swim slowly over me, and it was so terrifying that I had to get up and stand in the darkness until I calmed down. That’s not like me.
The burial took place in Paris under a beautiful sun, with a curious crowd. So much black. My dad and me held hands with Anne’s old folks. I watched them with curiosity – they would probably come to have tea with us once a year. They looked sadly at my dad – Webb must have told them about the proposal. When I came to the exit, I saw Salil trying to find me. I avoided him. I felt bitterness toward him and it was completely uncalled for… I can’t justify it. The people around us hated how pointless the accident had been. And because I still wasn’t sure whether it was accidental, that made me feel a bit better.
We didn’t meet again until dinner that evening, both being so anxious about that sudden confrontation. I really wasn’t hungry, and he wasn’t either. We needed Anne to come back. I couldn’t stand to think of the face she’d had on before she left, or her grief and how it was my fault. I’d forgotten my patient schemes and careful planning. I felt completely uncentered, dog without a lead and collar, and I saw the same feeling in my dad’s face.
It’s funny how destiny enjoys choosing faces that are unworthy or average as its avatars. That summer it chose Elsa’s. A really beautiful face, if you like, and so attractive. She also had an incredible laugh, expressive and complete. You have to be a bit dull to have a laugh like that.
I’ve said so much about Anne and myself, and barely mentioned dad. It’s not that his part wasn’t the most important in this story, not that I don’t think he’s interesting… I’ve never loved anyone like I loved him, and of all the emotions which drove me, back then, those I felt for him were the most stable, the deepest, the ones I held onto the most. I know him too well to speak freely, it feels too close… But it’s him who I have to spend the most time explaining, to make him seem acceptable.
The next day I woke up and felt fine, barely even tired, though my neck was sore. I must have pushed things a bit far. Like every morning, my bed was bathed in sunlight. I opened my curtains, threw off my pyjama top and offered my bare back to the sun. I rested my cheek on my folded arms, and looked at the thick weave of the canvas curtain and, off to one side, a fly on the tiles, cleaning its eyes. The sun was soft and hot, it felt like it was massaging my bones under my skin, taking special care to heat me up again. I decided I would spend the morning like that and not move at all.
Sometimes the heaviest reading
is the lightest – you understand?
Threading a needle envelops
the whole of us, a subtle task –
It is not a wetted slide down
in bright acrylic tubes to pools
It is a staircase and each step
slightly differs in height. Slowness
is an active ideal. I read
the day we spent in Dunstanburgh
and it is complex. Razor bills
and Shags patrol the ruined keep
in the darkness while the basalt
is thrashed by the waves. A staircase
starts halfway up a ruined stack –
The last person to take those stairs
was some unnamed and lost servant.
Yellow gorse patches over hills
which spread to the damp horizon
and fields of rapeseed glow and grow
We have steps to take and relearn
as heat passes into the sky
over the bookshop. And your kiss
stumps me like distant history
Only the finest and most active animals… – Nietzsche
On the seventh day, I rested.
I took my little boots, went out
and sat in the memorial garden.
Tears were licked from my eyes by time.
Cherry blossom was on the trees
a rusty angel holding wreaths.
I thought how, once built, a bridge lasts –
a stone bridge outlasts us, and sings.
Dreams of war danced in the cold night.
In rooms, piles of ancient books loomed.
The sun isn’t something missing
it’s an overflow of hot thoughts –
that dances on the horizon
and tricks us by travelling so slow.
I wanted to say this: thank you,
here is a Picquot tray of tea.
Like tidal waves upon a cliff
this came to me, this old feeling,
made me take a seat and begin
thinking the odds and ends again.
Oh, all my help and those I harmed
– joy hands on joy to us and then,
like lava at tectonic rifts
from this, may things begin again
I’ve loved you all my waking life.
and it’s rare like atmospheric
crystal rainbow clouds, in the night
catching the moon’s light. Called moon-dogs.
Though rareness isn’t a good sign –
rare diseases are rare, okay,
but I’m trying to find something
like a mock moon has its anchor –
I see your hesitancy through
your 22° halo –
Could we after all have found more
in others. Could is a puzzle,
and I’ve loved you, my waking life.
The tautology has my throat –
like a jet necklace. And the joy
you bring me has long years in it.
We are vintage. We can say that,
and others cannot. Exclusive
isn’t necessarily good,
okay… But the world falls away
when you laugh, or you say my name.
And that’s not good either, okay,
or is it. You are my chapel!
my holy book! my holiday!
Come for me,
Come, take my hand
I ask you again –
you cough and tense
Your wrack is my wrack
We squirm together