Rather give the world away, than wake up lonely
Emily Haines can always tap my moods, with a midwinter voice and lyrics to make the paint run off a portrait of life, down to the floor to pool about my feet, drawing me back.
Stood up too soon, we bleed down the walls.
When I was a child, I found a recurring dream of a corridor, long and full of icy moonlight, a nest of blue shadows. Dust of ages skirled about my small feet, and the gold finger of torchlight pointed me to ancestral faces pillowed in time. Easeful the night, easeful the forest within and without. Carved frames that smelled of acorns and soil, things left for only the worms to know intimately –
Thick oils overlapping, brush-stroke upon waves upon breaking sea; all those colours hovering around midnight, as blue and pink shadows will dapple the white of snow. The darkest forest of all, here, known only in the shift and weave of branches from the unsettling wind; the rime of hoar-frost, picked out in the argent light of a hangnail moon.
And the green-gold glow of eyes, lamplight haven of the forest – beasts and beings, alive and timeless beneath a sky where no star could die. A deer, caught in the light of my torch – it stood beneath the spreading black arms of an oak, and when I stepped forward to dab a hand to it, my fingers passed through canvas dry as bone and wet as blood.
Time and fear melt to the loving touch of a painter who knows their craft will live forever, if not through their name then through the dreams left behind.
And it was with a dream’s knowing wink that I found myself standing in the forest, with that moon’s laugh in my throat and the rattle of leaves all around, as an ever-thought. A timeless place to be
(where we grow and decay no longer)
I ran with them all, over dew-dappled grass. My feet found them, those diamonds – caught them up between my toes, to be set into the throat of the night. Mud and ice to crackle, and blood to sing.
It lasted all of forever, in that gluey way of dreams.
Waking to morning light is to be heart-heavy, and solemn in the face of mortality and childhood. I trespassed in every large house and estate I could find, patting down walls and rapping knuckles on firepits, wondering where that hallway went, with its ancestors and midnight and dust.
Paint thick as the creases of a beloved book, as the hair of a lover; those lapping oil-waves that still make more sense to me than anything I’ve yet known, awake or asleep.
Touch. It’s such a complex thing. I went for years – a decade, more – with people afraid to touch me, afraid (as my mother put it) to hug me, in case I broke. I was made of ice and glass. She would put her arms around my shoulders, so gingerly, like this …
And my spine would become a blade. I didn’t know how to respond, and we would make an awkward dance of breathspace and waiting for the drop, knowing that it would soon be over, in one sense or another.
But I bore easily, and waiting was never my strong point.
Still, touch has become a foreign concept to me again, not something easily missed. I smile, and wander between people, and watch them at work and asleep and on trains, in pubs and libraries and in graveyards, where their faces fall to the soil and might never get up again. They put hands to each others’ shoulders, and it is the message of nerves and loss, of love shared in a slight pressure that is a whole world to one who is grieving.
There are many tactile people in the world; my family are known for it. My brother and I are easily sent to sleep with fingers brushing the back of our necks. As a child, he’d twirl my hair between his fingers, as we sat curled up together to read.
Actually, he still does, only now he doesn’t get jam caught in the strands.
Maybe if I concentrate hard enough, and watch that moon (it’s a half-and-half tonight, new and not new, old and not old), then it will turn blue. I’ll step back through the canvas and be Gone, lost to the night.
No footsteps to mark my way this time. No path back. Blue roses to gather, in the silent places of the world, the black glades, the deep pools that wait at the foot of trees, where rings go to rest and bide their time.
To be buried beneath a garden of blue roses is to live forever, in the mind of the one left behind. The honour and curse of eternal life; a pact sealed beneath raven petals and twisting roots, where only the worms know sleep, but even they can’t enter this dream. The life and love of one who will never walk on, finding the path from a world where we’ve seen it all before. Or think we have.
Just thoughts, really. Just dreams. They sustain me more than reality could. Sanity doesn’t always grant peace, just as madness doesn’t always bring quiet.
Snow on the land falling
Trace out the line
Bitter as berries
And echo of time
The lamplight of eyes
And paleness of life;
The forest that lives
With your midwinter mind.
Not my world and
Not my storm
Of words and thoughts
Of lives and lies
These dreams we have
Die in the dawn –
One rose, blue
Turned to you.