Hello Sadness 2020 – 2-7

A few days later, my dad received word from one of our friends inviting him down to Saint-Raphaël for a drink. He got us in on it straight away, excited to get some distance from this voluntary and basically forced solitude we were living in. So I told Sal and Elsa that we’d be at the Sun Bar at seven and that, if they wanted to come, they’d see us there. Unfortunately Elsa knew the friend in question, which meant she was even keener to come. I guessed there would be complications and tried to dissuade her. What a waste of effort.

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Hello Sadness 2020 – Part 2-6

The next morning, I took my dad on a walk down the road. We were upbeat and talked a lot, but not about anything in particular. On the way back to the villa I suggested we go through the pine wood. It was exactly half ten, I made sure. My dad was walking ahead of me because the path was narrow and full of brambles, and he was pushing them back as we went so I wouldn’t scratch my legs. When I saw him stop, I knew he’d seen them. I came up behind him. Salil and Elsa were sleeping, laid out on the pine needles, looking rugged and happy – I mean I told them to do that, but when I saw them I felt devastated. Elsa’s love for my dad, Sal’s love for me, could that have stopped them? They were equally beautiful, equally young, and so close to each other… I glanced at my dad, he was looking at them intensely, without moving, and he was strangely pale. I held his arm:

    – Let’s not wake them, let’s go.

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Hello Sadness 2020 – Part 2-5

The moment with the cigarettes wasn’t without consequences. Like some people who think a lot before acting, who are very sure of themselves, Anne wouldn’t tolerate being disobeyed or dishonoured. By being gentle, by releasing her tough hands from my face, she was going against that side of herself. She’d guessed that something was happening, and she would have made me confess to whatever it was, but at the last moment she gave in to pity or indifference. Because she had just as much trouble taking care of me, training me even, as she did accepting my weaknesses. The only thing that pushed her into this role as my tutor, my teacher, was a feeling of duty – that by marrying my dad, she was taking responsibility for me as well. I would have liked it if the constant disapproval, if I can call it that, could have improved to just annoyance. I would have liked it if I could have felt that she was just over-sensitive, because then it would have faded as she got used to me. But it’s much easier to get used to someone’s behaviour if you don’t feel like it’s up to you to sort them out. In six months she would have been tired of me, but in an affectionate way, and that was exactly what I wanted. But it wasn’t going to happen, because she felt responsible for me, and in a way she was, because I was still easily mouldable. That and stubborn.

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Hello Sadness 2020 – Part 2-3

The next day, as I was walking down to Sal’s house, I felt a lot less sure of my thoughts. To celebrate that feeling of all the tension being over, I’d drunk a lot at dinner – I ended up pretty drunk. I explained to my dad how I was going to study literature, visit professors and that I would end up famous and boring. He would need to use all his advertising techniques and probably some kind of scandal to set off my career. We were in hysterics, talking over our crazy ideas. Anne laughed too, less loudly – she was indulging us. From time to time she stopped laughing, when my ideas became overblown and nothing to do with literature. But my dad was so obviously enjoying himself having a laugh with me that she said nothing. Eventually they put me to bed, tucking me in. I thanked them too many times, and asked what I would do without them. My dad really didn’t know, and Anne seemed to have some pretty brutal ideas on the subject, but as I was begging her to tell me, as she leaned over, I fell asleep. In the middle of the night, I threw up a lot. Waking up that morning taught me just how crappy waking up can be. It was worse than I’d ever had before. My thoughts fuzzy, my heart beating too fast, I headed towards the pine woods without noticing the sea at all, or even the probably overexcited seagulls.

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Two Sea Poems

You’re the Shark Eating my Heart (A Love Poem)

You’re the shark eating my heart
slowly and with little care
while seagulls watch most bemused
and the bored sea smashes on
against sharp rocks, boringly
meanwhile the wind has died down
and the pool surface is glass

so the only noise is chomping.
looking across the bay sound
I think I see whales spouting
but no – that red is blood red,
not sunset. Splashes from where
you’re the shark eating my heart
slowly and with little care and I like it?

Sea Memory

I do not remember
as if it has sunk deep
or diffused within me –
my first visit to sand
and sea – ever – as if
my genesis is now –

as if I were born out
of my sea memory –
as the long horizons
shone in the sea’s tearings
I materialised
crashed in, filling this space

We talk of this later
our feet are hot and sand
rubs off them in our socks.
I turn back and see it;
the dark grey portion sinks
leaving a blank white sky