A sailor once said to me
With a countenance sunny
“One day you’ll look back on this
And it will all seem funny
You’ll laugh at the storm
That took away the sails
You will learn in time
That hope and faith prevails
You will brush all hardship
From the collar of your coat”
But I’m still bailing water
And he’s still pissing in my boat
If they could see me now
White tie and tails
Dancing on a silver moonbeam
They’d know why I hung them out to dry
They’d all cry out
“Why, he sure showed us!
Cardboard cutouts at a cabaret
Polishing our shoes for nothing”
Here comes the spotlight!
Can you hear the violence?
They’re playing our song
And they can all go do the foxtrot
And so we meet
One final time
To burn the last of our memories
To watch the ashes of trust
Take to the air
And fall like snow flakes
In somebody else’s yard
There will be no tender kiss
No parting tears
We will not recognise each other
For all the armour
And the grotesque masks
As we seize our last chance
To push each other into the fire
With her feet on the wrong way round, she ran away rather well. She chased her heart down the wrong paths, and ran into trouble before she could see it. Corrective shoes did not help. They only slowed her down, so that sharp pains became dull aches. But she polished those shoes every day, so shiny she could see her face in them. Such a sad face. So sad she couldn’t bear to see it. So she took the shoes off, and she walked barefoot, and her toes found their way more carefully.
Why had she been given bundles of twigs instead of hands? She could do nothing with them, for fear of splinters. Why had she been banished so early in life?
Emily felt she would always be stranded on the cusp of adulthood. She somehow knew she would never grow old, but this was no consolation. To never be able to touch another, to embrace someone. To snag them, and tear them, that was all.
She never felt complete. Not in her empty arms. Not in her unconscious soul. Above all, she wanted her mistress to take her back, to embrace her and envelop her and cry for her. She wanted to see herself through her eyes and be loved.
Emily was always summoned by the sound of her mistress unsettled in her sleep. She would follow the soft erratic breathing in the darkness of the bedroom. Her mistress would start to mouth words. “No.” Her hands would push away at shadows. And louder. “No!” Her mistress thrashing her legs.
She would silently stand in the shadows by her bed, tearfully watching her in her throes. Those unconscious eyes staring in terror. “NO!”
It was painful to watch, but what could she do? She could not touch her and wake her, for she knew she would again be banished. She could not offer comfort, only a hard, brittle prod.
One day, she knew not when, but she dearly hoped, her mistress would call her and welcome her and say sorry, and cry upon her sleeves, and her twigs would soften to delicate fingers, which she would run through her mistress’s hair.
I could have stayed and held on tight. Rode the thing out like King Buckaroo. But I held on to a dignity I no longer have, for a certainty which leaves me suspended.
Memories assail me at every corner. Of sunlit limbs skipping down a packhorse trail. Kissing over every bridge and under one or two. Just a mayfly dancing in my hand.
Tearing her knickers on the kitchen counter. Rocking her body like a boat in a storm. I miss the slip of her wet thighs. I miss the feel of her shoulder against mine. I thought for a while we drew closer still.
I held my breath and clung so tight and made a wish upon us both. But a breath can only be held for so long until it burns. Jealousy tore me into it’s Hell.
And so my chances get slimmer. Another one I can’t replace. And I hold too many standards and measures to be fair to someone new. I curse her for opening my eyes.
I am jealous of every day that I am not with you
I am jealous of the light which falls on your skin
I am jealous of the sun’s rays which penetrate and warm you
I am jealous of everything you gaze upon
I am jealous of every breath you take
I wish each breath you took was mine
And each breath I took was yours
I am jealous of every soul that meets you
The bank cashier, the bus driver, the supermarket checkout attendant
This is not love
This is not hate
This is an evil feeling
With no respite
I am jealous of the man I was when first we met
For he never knew this pain
I am jealous of your bathwater