Kitestring/Finitude

When you want to reach someone else

But find yourself dissolving on the way-

When you get there finally, and

Everything that was yellow, is now green.

When your voice is a kite string

lost around your throat

When you realize they cannot untie you-

And you stop breathing-

but have to start again because

you know this much, by now.

So, with this kite string situation-

Now, you have to look for your hands

(all over again)

If not your wrists, check your hair.

If not your hair, check your coat pockets

If not your coat pockets, then his coat pockets.

Keep checking. They’re bound to be somewhere.

When you find your hands have been returned to you

You will blink at them, smaller, tougher-

Thinking the same word back to front.

Finitude.

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Power cut

Watch how the darkness

Makes everything softer

Turns voices into echoes

From far away.

Here,

Only the ticking of the clock

Between these heartbeats.

Here,

Only the sound of breath

lingering and leaving

your waiting chest.

Storm. And/ or Lighthouse.

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

***

 

March has been the month of memories.

And my hands clutching her ankles,

Although we are not touching.

I am not supposed to touch her.

So I say-

Please.

Wait, I’m not supposed to say please. Or even, stay.

So instead, I tell her a story. About storms, about waiting.

I know this story is true.

***

 

Before I sleep, before I eat, before I check my phone

I have to remind myself that I cannot win

A battle that is not mine to fight.

***

Today,

Someone woke me up with sentences

That tasted like wildflowers,

And in the afternoon

I spilled laughter over the faces of my friends

And laughed some more.

And at night,

My sister opened her palms

And I kept my secrets in them.

Today I am aware of fragility

how

Everything made sense.

Everything made sense.

***

Before I sleep,

I will say a prayer for those shipwrecked senseless,

Those seeking the respite of water in their tired lungs.

I will pray for things I cannot name-

I will pray for the coming of

unhurt days.

Unknotting

Writing does not come easily. Not at the writing desk with a  mug where dreams rise like steam clouds. Not on the yellowed paper diary, tucked around the perfect black ink pen.

Never. My writing has stopped being convenient, stopped showing up when invited, so often now, I don’t bother.

Instead, she is a silent gatecrasher. Instead now, I am guilty of looking away.

Instead, the hum of the sunset against the car window- where pen and paper isn’t an option. Instead, I need to go take a shower, finish making this presentation, finish thinking about each story I carry in my head that isn’t fictional, finish the to-do list,

Writing comes in between me and the tidiness I strive for in my days.

So here I am. Still in my work clothes at 9.26pm on a Saturday with my tabs open to material for a presentation, and my towel waiting on the shower rack, and a white t-shirt with a quote about the sea on it, which I will wear later to the airport.

Writing surrounds me always, and I keep telling her, not now. Not here. Not this way.

If I’m not careful, I’ll tie myself into knots, just to keep things tidy.

That is not how I began, but it is how I’ve become. 

So here’s to a month of  Unbecoming. Detangling. Unknotting. Untying. Retying.  A month of letting poetry stand behind me, running her quicksilver fingers through my hair.

Like so many poets and writers across the world, I’m making April some promises.

I insist I am safe, even if I break them.

Today is the day of fools, after all.

***

Untied Breath.

If you could see the inside of my forehead,

You would not be able to read-

Beneath my eyelids

scratched out billboards

stand flippantly.

I close my eyes-

and

I am always tripping

Over the words

I collected

and abandoned.

Sometimes, if I am lucky

I can feel poetry’s breath

On the nape of my neck

Her fingers dissolving all the questions

In my wild hair,

Until my eyelids are wiped clean

with breath

Until the mirror

Faces now, here.

Roadsong and Promise

The night air, still. I am folded quietly into it. I am a nobody behind the steering wheel at 9.17pm.  The road is darkly curving into forever. The streetlights are all kindness. The air has finally found its breath, and I can feel it on my face.

 

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The wheels, turning fast. A love song playing, slow. Driving the car along the starlit spine of this night.

 

I’m here, but I’m somewhere else. Between the constellations outside the car windows, and the rustle of the leaves in the trees.

It has been a hard day, a long day, and now, I am surrounded by darkness, wind, stars, trees. The road spins beneath me, a hypnotic ribbon. Music wraps itself around me, the slowest embrace.

Even if I wanted to, I could not tell you what it felt like to be alive in that moment. So gloriously alone. So perfectly solo. So content to be alive, just here, just by myself.
There hasn’t been a moment this perfect in the longest time. A blur of starlit darkness, windsong and trees.My hands on the steering wheel, my hair whipping wildly in the breeze, the slowest love song spilling over me, my heart, continuing to beat itself into a hush.

I keep driving.

The wheels continuing to turn below me, in perfect and unbroken circles. The wheels continue to turn like promises, bringing me home.

Gravity

What do you dream of? 

Of having ground beneath my feet.

I live in a house without gravity, he tells you.

I know.

Come with me?

You have to answer the question to yourself first.

Will you survive this?

Invocation

Let this year be the year where cynicism can be shrugged off, because you are strong enough to choose now.

Let this year be the year where you choose neither fantasy nor despair but faith. Faith in the simple fact of soil and sun, of grass blades rising, of flowers unfurling, of leaves being swallowed once again into earth and dissolving in darkness.

Let your heart be free enough and wild enough to risk unfurling, blooming, decay and regeneration.

In this year, wear stillness like a stone around your neck. When your chest aches with tightness, touch it like a talisman and simply breathe, without expectation, taking in the simple fact that you are alive and breathing, despite the weather.

In this year hunt, and cultivate. Hunt for opportunities to open your doors to the carnival of the world, its storms and crescent moons and travelers. Cultivate the flowers you see in your dreams. Every year has a color.

This year, let it be red.

In this year, learn to be generous, firstly with yourself. Practice making yourself at home, even in the middle of desolation, practice the kindness of a warm cup of tea, a stroke on the forearm. It does not matter if there are no elders to place their hands on your head. Pat yourself to sleep, like this. You will learn. May there be an infinity beginning to grow in the kindnesses you can show to your self. In this year, may you be loved, and may you learn to love more deeply the flawed faces in your mirror.

In this year, dance. If there is a river of music, plunge in and swim. Do things you have not thought of doing. In this year, do not go a day without a song.

In this year, surrender. If not to the soil and sky, then to your own heartbeat. Hold your heart in your chest like a delicate flower. It will never wilt if you attend to it, even through the tricks of autumn.

In this year may you learn to love autumn and its welts of red on the landscape. May you come to understand harvest, fullness, ripening and tasting. May the strawberries you dreamed of in spring, loved to sanguine in summer, be allowed to fall to the earth and become the sweet scrape of jam in your mouth on a grey winter’s day. In this year, learn that autumn does not mean an ending. Learn to preserve the sweetness, for your own sake, alone.

In this year, learn to stitch an extra quilt for winter, just because. Be of the kind of love that is a little more, just because you deserve a little more. In this winter, live with the extra quilt tucked under your bed sheets. In this winter, when you shiver, allow yourself to reach for it. Practice the warm discipline of love and insistent care, not denial. Do not leave yourself vulnerable to frostbite when your fingers are yet to be pregnant with dreams.

In this year, prepare to be broken by life, over and over again in a thousand different, difficult, daily ways. And in this year, live with the bone deep faith that breaking does not mean broken, and broken does not mean irreparable, and loss does not mean forever.

In this year, learn to wait for not just summer, but spring, autumn and winter.

You will outlive all of them.

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The pool on a blue thursday.

 

 

She tells you she may kill herself.

You are not supposed to gulp.

It has been a six year battle. She has been getting better, but it does not matter if she cannot see it.

She comes to struggle. You come to witness. You keep your hands to yourself. Since you are not supposed to gulp, you listen to the silence that grows like a river between the two of you.

You send words to the other side. You watch them drown.

The last time she tried,  she nearly did.

 

***

 

There are some days when your own voice does not make sense to you. Days where words are sieves for everything they attempt to hold.

You take yourself to water. You leave work an hour early. The pool is blue, empty and perfect.

And then, wintry.

You are unprepared for January in an October swimming pool.  You freeze. Pain is moving. Pain is not moving. Eventually, pain is in freezing. So you move.

Teeth chatter. Goosebumps erupt.

It is 5.30pm on a Thursday, and you are cold to the bone in a blue swimming pool that is streaked with sun.

The water is not a warm lullaby. The water is not a summer dream. The water is work. You love the color blue, even though you know it is dangerous. Everybody told you water would give you nightmares, but you knew there was nothing else you wanted to touch, for now.  You chose the water. And now, here you are. Every single bone in your body hurting, cold and irreversibly alive. You grit your teeth. You swim to the other side.

Inhale, exhale, blur.

The cold does not grow on you. It never will. It becomes less cold, but not warmer. Your head is full of trickster metaphors about choice, madness, pushing through, freezing to death.

Is there a point to pleading for a life that does not belong to you?

Is there a point to shivering in a swimming pool with sore muscles, on a thursday afternoon?

Is there a point to thinking so much?

You focus on the water, not the pinpricks of cold. You move, because to not move means to shiver. The goosebumps sit tight on your skin. You realize they do not stop you.

Yet.

The water was not blue, waiting with an epiphany. The water did not dissolve everything you needed it to.

Perhaps, you were a prayer.

Perhaps, the water was listening.

Carrying the leftover words inside you, you leave.

***

When you go home, you will feel a new hunger kicking in your belly.

And when your head lies on the pillow, you will sleep this night without being restless.

Maybe this is the closest you get to grace, today.

You hope everyone does.

 

Ocean. Shipwreck. Drowning. Blue

The words buzz in your skull

Dead.

The words have run out leaving

behind the emptiest emptiness

Your heart

The top half of an exhausted hourglass.

In a corner,

Someone is trying very hard to fix things-

You want to join them, or wanted to.

But they are faraway, and they

do not understand a word you say.

(This is always the fight. This is the only fight. Whose words make sense, and whose words don’t.)

Speak, they beg you, speak. Please.

You sorely wish to oblige, but trying hurts.

You open your mouth, and everything vanishes back into it.

Your words are ash at the back of your throat

Bitter and weightless pebbles crammed into your mouth

And your words, finding that they are unspeakable

alter themselves,turn to water and salt

So that when you taste them, you will think in flashes of pictures.

Ocean. Shipwreck. Drowning. Blue.