Tuesday, 30 June 2009

"Write about capturing the image"

I’m a blanching sack of nerves, stuffed to breaking with the not know-how of this prep. I can’t face anything but sleep. The scratch of the sofa and blueish tinge of my skin beats the rising shriek of uncertainty otherwise offered by ACCOUNTABILITIES.

I’m sucking at excuses, waiting for you to twist my heart into a teasing mushy pulp and reignite my fight to let me sit, glaring, aware, upright&ready this evening.

Which is –

this is what it is.

Something needs to give before I am able to begin. This house weeps with age and I press my body to it in the silence, passing out of now – thankful and beatific – into recollection and grey dawns. I am half-conscious, pressed straight backed against the arm rest. My eyes are shut, spread thin against the worn sunshine of this/that day. A feeling of I’ve sunk myself. I love – everything –. His easy, sloping part of it ushers in half-truths. It irons flat the damp and neverending monotony of this particular day.

I don’t want to be in love again, don’t need another chasing flare of trailing conflict to stick my head and make this – these tracked lines back and forth from my head and the page – count for nothing but what they are; garbled, mindstruck rubbish.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Gather firewood, start a fire

He flings a twig at me and gestures fiercely at the hill. “What the hell….we’ve no time to waste!” He bares his teeth, gritted and black, and bends to pick the dropped pack of matches off the floor, scraping his knuckles on the crumbled mud in a snatching show of manhood. He turns back to me, spitting slightly but switching fast to a softer tone which shakes with control; “don’t you act like that’s an unreasonable request now”.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Heather and Phil stood close and uncertain, uncomfortable with their proximity to Mainey’s uncontrollable fast animal pain.

He comes up close to me, blocks my path in a show of teeth, mingling mixed lust and shooting hate in a frizzled flare that connects the both of us. I flinch and turn away with a decisiveness I don’t feel, hating myself for wanting him even now. “Fine”, I snap, though wincing with fury at my tremulous tone. I have no other option but to shoulder and freeze, toying with my numbness in these crazed curt calls of madness which he understands.

His face bites at my vision in the halflight as we stare each other down. It bears an unreadable expression that I know intuitively to be a precursor to something that is tearing and unhinged. I don’t know Mainey well yet, but we both know it is only a matter of time before I follow him to [I CANNOT FINISH THIS - !]

"Write about a woman named 'tomorrow'"

We were a good way through the summer and still had no sun to show for it. We had a sense that the sun was always just one town away and it was so close that we took to praying to tomorrow. Tomorrow was surely the day when the low-lying clouds would move on and take the hot,wet air with them. We could barely breathe in that air - it was so much like drowning that we hated to open our mouths and draw in a breath as soggy and dead as the one we were letting out. It was as though the whole town was trapped with their heads under their blankets and they couldn't find a way to get out.

Even the plants didn't like the damp air. Our weather was normally so temperate that the plants we grew were suited to just that environment. And the clothes we left on the lines should have dried in the heat in minutes, but they all stayed soaked in the still air. There was barely a shower of rain to cool us off, and in the end our prayers turned into violent shouts to call tomorrow to us. We sent our young men into the hills around the town to see if they could spot tomorrow coming our way. And they all said that the sun was just a town off and it couldn't be long till it was with us. It was only tomorrow away.

At night, the heat was the worst. We couldn't stand the feathers and foam of our mattresses and so we took turns sleeping top to tail in cool enamel bath-tubs or on the dusty stones of cellar floors. We all moaned in our half-sleep. The town was filled with a song that had just one word - tomorrow.

On one of the many days when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I was sat in the dappled shade of a wilting tree. I had spread my arms and legs, and even my fingers and toes, wide apart, to keep away the sticky feeling of damp skin on damp skin. The main road ran by the bottom of the field that I was sheltering in. It was a tarmac track that had melted weeks ago and not reset once in all that time. Cars had stopped coming to the town because they couldn't get along the road without sinking into it. But that day there was a woman walking right down the centre of the sticky black road. She wore a light coat made of tiny patches of blues and greens sewn together with silver thread. It shimmered in a wind she seemed to bring with her. And behind her she tugged a string that drew the clouds like they were a curtain across the sky. She jiggled the thread to drop a little rain on the town and then pulled the cover away from us to let the sun shine on the town. I watched her for a minute or two and then ran across the fields to my house to tell everybody that I had seen tomorrow arrive.

"Write about what you see in your rearview mirror"

The house had once been the bustling big-family centre of an old plantation. Then there had been a generation of all girls, and each one of them had perched on their daddy's knee in turn to press their pretty faces to his increasingly worn one and tell him that they were leaving to set up families of their own. There must have been boys in the family somewhere, but the old man couldn't wait out his death in that house once his daughters had all gone and he sold it, plantation and all, to total strangers.

It went through a number of hands, and by the time my family acquired it, the farm land had been sold off separately and it had gone from cotton to corn to tourist ranch, complete with the neatest corral you've ever seen, from which emerged the sounds of clumsy whip-cracks and forced, over-enunciated yee-has.

We moved into the house when I was nothing more than a slight swell on the stomach of my already over-stretched mother. There were four kids already and four more to follow me. But I had a feeling that the house was mine - that it had been bought for me. The others all left as soon as they were old enough - we weren't as close as you'd imagine. Maybe it's different in other big families, but in ours there always seemed to be enough kids to go around. Nobody worried over one leaving. Or at least, not until there was just one left. And that was me.

I was planted firm in the house while the tide of the other kids flowed in and out around birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving. I was shingle on the shore-line. I was flotsam and jetsam. Floating and tumbling in their tide but never seeming to get anywhere. Well, not anymore! Today, it is Christmas morning and there is spray-snow on the windows and an embarrassing mound of presents spilling out from under the tree. Today, they will be too busy to notice that I'm gone. I'm already in my pick-up as the sun struggles up over the horizon, with my suitcases in the back and no destination in mind. The truck is rumbling down the single track away from the house and in my rearview there is nothing but the past, growing smaller and smaller by the second.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

"On my Body is a Story you can Read"

You, with your strong fingers and their butter-soft touch, crawl beneath the hem of my top. The tan-lines there that you're looking for talk shyly of our summer. They tell tales on us - reveal the gradual unpeeling of the layers of my clothes in the cover of the long grasses and wildflowers of the meadows that form the half-way point between our houses.

My arms are dark with the markings of the summer-hours of my resistance. But there is a caramel tint to my stomach, with its soft skin that you said begged to be kissed. You nudged up the fabric of my t-shirt with your red-blushed nose and left my chest freckled. Then you joked that one day you'd bring a pen and draw out the dot-to-dot picture that I kept secret on my skin. You said that the joining of my freckles would show my true self. And you wanted to tease out more of the orange-brown dots on my pure, white flesh. But I held firm, kept my zippers zipped and my hooks fastened. Until today.

Those fingers of yours find their way under everything, and they draw new battle lines with the sun's browning marker. And today you have exposed the bright white, the wedding white, of my uncovered breasts.

They don't show it now, but later I will notice their slight deepening in colour. And you will have won them over to your side in the war. I will concede defeat and withdraw my forces - note the lines drawn for our next battle.

"Down to my deepest depths I peered"

Periodically, I dream of you. In my dreams you are much like you appear in real-life, but softer and yet more intense, because in my dreams it is always just the two of us and we are perfectly in sync. Everything in my dreams becomes mixed: so the scene in Middlesex with the bed becomes a party heap of bodies and me waking to the crook of your arm and the back of your neck. I would never be so bold, never be so blind, and yet in my dream I rest my head there for a few minutes and what I feel – is an anchorless forever, what I distrust – is everything else. Last night you pulled away in the kindest possible way, and I felt my heart give like water through your fingers. You put your lips to my ear and whispered something secret; a powerful arching sentiment of reasonableness; ‘you know that we…..’ and I heard, but still I gripped your arm and still I breathed through my nose and felt the rise-and-fall of all the brushed aside promises which reached for me in the final moments of them living. I had two more dreams afterwards, where I was on a boat. Twice I came close to drowning. Before I was freed the second time, before I sat beside you on the middle deck, shivering with the mute cold of dream chills and acceptance, I felt the call of dying recede into that collage of senses and the mindpull of unreality sink my heart like nothing ever could.