….It all just falls apart

abadn

But when I look into your eyes, it pieces up my heart.

My answers are almost lost in the haze of the rain, of what this year has said and spent. It’s been –
“Learning curve” doesn’t quite cover it.

We only learn enough from the light, to know ourselves blind. Stand in the darkness, liebe, and cry, and feel it all as a bullet hole in the chest. Memories fill it up again, and we walk on.

Time doesn’t so much heal, as stitch the pieces back together, or fill in the gaps and the splits with seams of gold. But you’re never quite the same, again.

I took a blind man by the hand, and led him away from the sunken well, where he’d been trying to draw water from a dry and empty laugh. The thick smell of damp and lichen made us cough, and we staggered a-ways, with his gnarled hand on my shoulder. I let him loop it about, because I was no longer afraid of the Touch of others.

He became my eyes, in the dark. My senses were blunted from years, decades, millennia, of wandering with my mind fixed on the ground.

I thought we’d leave this for ourselves a hundred times before
But I guess we’re always leaving, even when we look the same
And it eases me somehow to know that even this will change.

Here we are, in our Now, with the pain of what came before and the wary knowledge of what is to come. Hit the ground, and run.

Except I won’t. Not this time. I’ve spent too long running, without stopping to wait for others; for feelings, for thoughts that might anchor me or hold me down … or hold me still, long enough to hear the whispered words on silvered breath.

Fierce and light, and young.

So we kicked up the yellow leaves and the dulled moss, the forlorn stones and the wires of flowers long-dead. The sky was a stretched skein of grey, a heavy head; the sun, a lowered eye. His shoulders slumped with the weight of it all, and I urged him to lean a little more.

I laughed so hard inside myself, it all began to hurt.

No one sees the salt that slides between the cracks on the clown-dolls’ face. That smile is a painted bridge between what is, and what must be. A coda of pain and hope. A web wavering in the winds that bring storms and rain.
A well uncared for, runs dry.

Have a care, world. We’re not all hungover. We’re not all lost, those who wander. But we are all here, and awake, and aware, and laughing with barbed wire.
Nothing worth knowing, is ever what it seems.

If you’ve still got some light in you, then go before it’s gone
Burn your fire for no witness,
It’s the only way it’s done.

When the light changed and the world moved on, we looked back. I showed him the path we’d made through the leaves, with my hand, brushing the silt and the sky from his forehead. One pass should do it; he won’t see, I’m not a miracle-worker. But he’ll feel it.
He’ll feel it.

October

There’s something about the changing light in this month – the pale mornings, the brassy texture of the sun as it eases into age – that fills me with a nostalgia born of melancholy, thoughts on a year’s weariness. All those goodly things thrown into the mix; stirred up in the creaking branches of a storm, the white splinters over a midnight sky; the bone-rattle-hiss of burnt out grass, and the croaking of ravens wheeling over a pastel twilight, wings blotting out the threadbare sun.

We’re not quite at the end, but it already seems this way. My thoughts turn to the new year, and in this case, it really can’t come soon enough. 2013 was difficult on personal terms; 2014 has shown me the multifaceted pain of a world I hadn’t recognized, known about to explore.

I’ll remember it for the words, twisting back on themselves; for the riddlespeak that was mine and not mine (such an early arrogance, to think I alone knew it), pain of the point pushed further and further in, until I wondered if my mind or spirit would break first. The ocean seemed deathless and without end, until I hit the bottom and waited to see what would happen next.

As it is, I found out in a packet of pills. Prescribed, at least.

I’ll remember it for the way I thought I would never let go, until the thorns shredded my skin, my ego, the pages I wrote upon. The voice in my mind found a soul mate.

I’ll remember it for the way a blue petal fell, turning black on its descent, to land at my feet in the toxic rainbow that sifts gently down to the drain.

I’ll remember it for the way I woke one morning without burning eyes. For the way I could breathe again, no knot in the chest at the thought of Alone.

I’ll remember it for the ocean eyes, for the wanting and the need and the knowing that when worlds collide, the fallout is a child’s dream of home.

Most of all, I’ll remember it for the way Responsibility became not only my friend, but my standard, after years of fleeing this mind-numbing foe.

I have been many things – names, people, animals, swear words, poison; I’ve been heartless and so full of Lionheart, I wanted to die rather than acknowledge the fact that what I clung to, would keep me down on my knees (clinging to that standard still), head lowered. Depression is knowing that what you hold dear, will make you come undone; it’s disregarding other’s fears and cares and words, until only your own voice is the piping in a blue wind.

It’s finding the grace to let go, without a name given, without a name taken. I was nameless, and not blameless.
I was myself, until even that wasn’t good enough. Maybe it never was.

You were the King of Swords, upright and inverted both. I was a dreamer – and we know what happens to those.
They see things in the stars.

One year on from a message sent in friendship, sympathy – empathy? – perhaps more; it was a difficult time, and I didn’t know myself. Didn’t really know you, either. That was the point.
Should I have just walked on by?
There’s a question only the October song knows.

And still, one petal blue. Because there are no happy endings, as nothing ever really ends.

Lampenlicht

Another twilight, another moss-covered wall; another lampenlicht walk, under a sky threatening to split with the weight of its thoughts. Conflict, my dear friends … it is the word of today, tomorrow, forever. It doesn’t seem to end, so much as stir from one ripple to another. To another, to another.

We have slipped beneath its dark surface again, tinged by the reddening sky; and in all my fanciful dreams, all those silent-screaming thoughts of the night (only a handful of months ago, and somehow another time, another place already), I could not conceive of it all. Such sights. Things I, and other unfortunates, will never be able to erase from under the eyelids. Such white-out times of pain and loss, for those hounded across ancient diamond teeth.
And the long fingers of evil stretch further, and further across the walls of the land, slipping between the cracks of history, to rear up

– sudden and swift

against your own tomorrows –

Into today.

I dislike using the word “evil.” It is too easy, too sweeping; it does not allow for coherent debate, for the flip of a double-sided coin. No positive argument to make, though, for a head on a pike. For a child, spilt like a misspent word into the sand, into a timeline. Into the world, passing from one to the next, until the life is an image of itself.

No, I won’t forget you. I won’t, and never want to; because for all that your identity was stolen away in blood, your innocence, the new light in your eyes … You were a life, and you were someone’s beloved.
No, I won’t forget you. I wish we had met under any other circumstance but the baseless, senseless defilement of that symbolism, for all that the perpetrators had to go upon. Religion is not theirs to keep; the flame goes out in hands too cold to know life, reason, and love.

Oh my friends – we hold each other in these white-out times; we keep our minds cradled in the lap of knowing the other’s despair;
And oh my foes –
I know your shadow-name, and I know you for what you are.

beetle black

I fear for this world, and am trying to find myself ready for it. Insofar as anyone can be ready, setting their face to the sky, to the watchful sun; to the circling pen-mark of rooks on the wind; the haggard trees, the lampenlicht nightwalk, and my old comrade-in-arms; the Lady Cathedral.

cathedral girl

lampenlicht

Tonight, I listened to the piping sweet-bell language of the bats, and knew the changing of the watch. The leaves are burning up on the buildings, scarlet as the mornings and ragged to their tips, like the wings of the rook, like the frayed ends of my hair.
It is almost blonde again; that brown-gold colour of youth. Combined with a near-normal body, I am slowly coming back around to what once was, while keeping these gentle lines about the eyes, these freckles on my nose; this somewhat yellowed laugh, like a papyrus scroll unrolled, filled with spider-black lines.

Uncover our heads and reveal our souls; we were hungry before we were born.

The past catches us up in the end. Run as hard as you might, and you run only from yourself.

I am quitting this blog tonight. It is too full of last year, which was painful, and still aches to the touch. There are places in town, across counties, which I still cannot enter, for the ghosts that run past me, trailing thoughts and feelings in their wake. Each time I think myself known in this new life, I am somehow only my own shadow, crawling up the wall.

You, Nosferatu; you long fingers, you smiling-abuser, you – with your burning touch, who would not let me go. Who still find my dreams, and riven them all around with brambles, choke me in mud of the past, until I am fighting awake and screaming for air –

And it will not end, until I turn and stop running. Stop running, and turn, turn about again, and find the light in all places, the one which will never go out. It has been here before, has come again; a different intensity each time. It is life, and love, and knowing that these claws sink only so far; that the nightmares will die in the day, with the dreams.

One coin, two sides.

I am wondering at the validity of this therapy. For all that I used to come awake and know myself frayed, frail, parched in the throat, dying a little more inside, but still alive – now, I find it difficult to feel anything at all.
To connect one thought to another, to find the patterns that were constellations. Or perhaps this is end-game after all, and I am walking ahead.
I see nothing but darker days, as yet. Anyone could tell you that, I suppose. You only have to look at the pitfalls awaiting the Eurozone; at the blue winds rising over Russia and Ukraine; at the red-rimmed eyes of the sun, the morning that fades a little more with each breaking heart.

I had thought myself paled into Forever, and had all but decided to disappear, back up into the tower of clicking needles and spinning thread. Those red-black stones called; the brambles lashed against the sky, filled with an everlasting storm made of torn angel wings, and a man’s blood on a knife clenched in her hand. That was a story and a song of long ago, when I was … about thirteen, I think. I had forgotten it, until now.

“You should never run from anything immortal, it attracts their attention.”
or indeed –
“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.”

Shorn wings, and the silver-fire cage of an Ever-Storm; that angel learned what it is to love a mortal, to feel the chillness of steel on bone, marking her as one like him after all; while forgiveness and punishment found her still, huddled into the rain-fretted mud, as one of His own. No love goes unacknowledged, no tear is forgotten. Silver and white, and blue and black; red as the life on the long thistle-song.
Jealousy reaps its own rewards.

barnes elias

But then came this, the lark’s rising song in the voice of Vicky Beeching; and I found myself able to cry, and to know colours again, and – while still alone, without touch
(which comes closer to a feather-trail of memory, every day)
I was awake and aware, and feeling what should be. Rubbing my cheek, and drinking a black-hearted coffee, and going on with a smile.
Such bravery in the writing, you would find in the heart of a unicorn, for all its ageless pain and wisdom; the ability to touch so many, to lift them from the dark place where we may go, from time to time.

Oh Robin. If only I had such words as these, by the inimitable John Underwood, to set the last bar. You were a dear childhood friend, known on a soundtrack to my RAF youth; found in a film for the rough-ready teens; and a summer sun of adulthood, which will never die.

apola sun

Keep the streets empty for me, Liebe.
Now I know your face, and I know your name
(the one you will learn; we are roles reversed, through the clock)
May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.
My King of Swords. Cut which-and-every-way, the song remains the same.
Dreaming of Mercy Street.

Shadow, thorn, and one blue rose

I find myself frequently bemused by this face.

Looking into the mirror as a child, I would stare hard until my eyes bled out tears; until the small, fine lines swam into adulthood – until an image of who I might one day become, was an image grasped in the hand of argent moonlight, riming the effortless sheen.

“I disappeared the lines – as memories came flooding in, the tears blew out my eyes.”

I am not so much who I thought I would become, as an evolved form of what once was. Older and quieter, arrogant still; believing herself to be above the world, even while walking at its feet. This is what sets me apart from those who are documenting what conflicts rip open the threads of humanity, bringing the truth of the world to unresolved eyes, to hearts that have learned the riddle-speak of care and continuity.

I still have far to go. Inhibitions are invisible manacles about my feet, and the years are heavy yet. But they will break. They must break, because I will have no one but myself to blame if they don’t. We are the successors to our own tenure, coming as going – or the flatline of Existence over Life.

I am thirty years old next April. This only bothers me in the context of what I have not achieved, may never achieve, if I don’t find the willpower to focus my voice; to know what it is I wish to talk about, and with whom. Right now, I dither from one place to one more commission, to one more job. There is freedom in these scrappy lines; I am able to up sticks and leave whenever I choose. But as Dido once said – and I do believe in this song, if no other – “But if my life is for rent / And I don’t learn to buy / Well, I deserve nothing more than I get / ‘Cause nothing I have is truly mine.”

I am still afraid of plans. Of setting down roots, of putting trust in anything longer than it takes to change my mind. Why?
Because I have felt the breath on my neck, of one who does not wait. Even as I try to slow down to enjoy things – food, company, a book, a life – I am aware of those thin spinning fingers, and the whispering echo, and the way it all came so close.

But what is a life, of a thread pulled taut?

Grandfather Time, within your tower
– Darkened brick and filled with icy
Breath of ages, standing still –
You hear my voice
You know my name
You watched a lifetime dialling down
To needle clicks and spinning threads.
Now pointing west, the arrowhead
Is finding love that cannot lie
That will not sleep;
You know my choice
A shadow, thorn, and one blue rose.

He bids me rove. There is still much to learn; to be accounted for.

King and Lionheart.

I had locked him away in a pillar of ice, hoping to set his heart free, so that he might return to his duties – for are we not all bound in such ways? Certainly, no royal can remain asleep forever, even while touched by the tint of a blue rose – and this heart does not lie easy, for knowing its shadow falls on a picture painted elsewhere, in another realm. I had hoped that by stifling his voice, so full of thorns, I might return to my own barren ways, this wild wood, this writing in black-gold … but it’s never so easy, is it?

Summer sun and winter moon
I have forgotten who is who
And still we chase, across the sky
The one to live, the one to die.

His blue-black shadows of doubt, for this lionheart. His dark water for my fire. I stride forwards, even while falling back; there is no letting go, though the words meet my eyes as thorns in the palm. I cannot deny what has not been done. Just as I cannot let go of what has not yet set beyond the horizon.

The sky is filled with both moon and sun so rarely; it is these times I cherish, with the world held between, a little black kitten with ocean eyes. We are the balance, do you understand?
I am tired, inside and out. Even this heart grows weary of pain, though she cuts open her own lip so frequently, on a wire-grin.

I live for pain. To feel alive, to know that I still exist. That I am not merely asleep. This once took the form of self-harming, hot needles on the skin (irony lives in fear of contamination, even while drawing blood.) I once danced my legs down to the knees, and trained beyond the gravel-pain of heartbeats in the throat.

Now, I set the moderation bar, and try to remember that to live is to know peace, too. Quiet. Sifting dust. Just because I am awake and aware, does not mean that I must push to the very last breath –

– before fading out.

These are but thoughts, as ever. I have been called many things recently – “wise”, “adorable”, “arrogant bitch.” I would say, put in a blender, they might summarize someone I would like to be. Who I thought I would know, when “all grown up.”

Instead, I am merely blinking away tears in front of the mirror, trying to resolve a firm image of the person staring back, with water-dark hair and freckles that have seemingly appeared from nowhere. I never had them as a child. But they are a good find.

I like tracing patterns. Stars, algorithms, the flecks of a magpie’s wings against a gunmetal sky, in accordance with the turning pages of a book, clasped in the hands of a hurtling-home commuter.

I can pretend to be cute, for all of an hour, before growing bored and wanting the serious façade back. Then this will be dropped too, in time for a giggle over a colleague’s terrible mug of coffee.

We are only a collective of emotions, rick-rolling from one situation to the next. I used to believe that I had to be same person for each, a static entity, so that no one would doubt my credibility. But this is boring as whale shit, and not sustainable. Mutability lives in the fire, stirred up by the rising air; water flows to enjambment –
And earth clings to the shovel, digging your grave.

I am a nonsense of words tonight. Just flexing these fingers, after all – a warm up, before chasing the sun back across the sky, as Celena, as Gaia, as the pseudonym made up at age fifteen, with no clue (then) of what significance it would come to hold.

Here, fire lights upon the ice
The shadows thaw beneath the smile
Of summer’s name, now caught between
A sea of stars, to call you home.

Trust in this, if nothing else.
Tattoo

Finding Constellations: Symbolism in Social media

People use different ways to convey their thoughts and emotions to the world, with some methods more easily identifiable and interpretable than others. Humour can be used as a subversion of pathos, as the light sparkles from a dark river to illuminate individual ripples of meaning; passive-aggression can fill the air between two people with an iron-tang tension, their mouths curled into wire smiles. I’ve always had a secret admiration – and yes, envy – for those who are able to come straight out with an intended meaning, with little to no subtext involved, while maintaining the dignity of manners that are the preservation of other’s feelings. The latter is a gift, woven into careful lexical choices and diplomacy.

My means of expression lies with figurative language. The weather becomes a mood; a song becomes a colour becomes an emotional reaction, behind the eyes. I find the world through metaphors and symbolism, and in trying to take control of / make sense of my part in it, I paint with words. Much of the world can be rather dull: grey-on-black-on-white, filing cabinets and coffee-stained carpets, absent faces drifting to and fro, bills and wet shoes. Chores and drinking, fucking in your own bed or someone else’s; collecting deliveries, and wrapping up presents. Visiting and shopping and … So far, so very human.

Since humour, wit and openness do not come easily to me, it’s through symbolism in particular that I make my presence, and intentions known. It’s also a bit more enlivening for the soul to create a running narrative of images, than stating plain old facts – though for whoever is on the receiving end (depending on their level of patience for this prevarication) it can be a delight or a chore to slog through.

There is also the element of concealing, rather than revealing my nature. When a subject becomes too intimate, controversial or uncomfortable for clear definitions, there’s the fall-back of figurative language to represent what I mean, with interpretations left wide open. It is the riddle-speak of the cat, and can bail me out of trouble or land me in heaps of it. A relative once told me that I trod a fine line between honesty and cowardice, in not speaking my truth upon serious matters with anything more than plain facts; a thought and assumption which I am still turning over in my mind, wondering if it was an accurate statement. As I grow older, and gain confidence in my own opinions, I’m working towards being more open and direct with meanings – if only to save time.

Then again, on less important matters – in everyday conversation – imagery can set free the mind from the mundane. This is particularly true on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter (my prevalent platforms), which allow for a symbolic dialect that is otherwise unavailable in the kinetic world, unless you carry a pack of Post-Its around.

On Twitter, I can tweet an image of a blue rose, or describe one, to convey the sort of multifaceted emotion which transcends plain definition, and enters a symbolic spectrum of meanings. I’m relying on symbolic interaction theory to get my point across, whereby the flower and its colour are interpreted in accordance with the subjective associations each individual audience member has with them. While the colour blue may lead one reader to think of the unending sky, the fathomless sea, the eternal mutability of the natural world, another person may find sorrow and a wistful longing attached to the shade, for the rose genus cannot naturally produce the pigment delphinidin necessary for blue in the petals, thus rendering the image as symbolic of a love that is as mysterious as it is unobtainable; beyond the reach of reality.

It is through the language of Twitter – its trends, its retweets, its favourites; its words, images, memes and videos – that we may convey meaning in symbolism. It has opened up channels of communication for those who, like me, tend to find the vocalisation of intentions, ideas and emotions, more stilted and awkward than in lexical form. Introverts can flourish, without the exhausting addition of physical presence and paralinguistics (though I still need to take time away every now and then, to let my head be quiet); writers can bend the minds of a wider audience with their imaginations; hobbies and professions can become the central theme for communities, which in turn may overlap one another, as occurs in everyday life. This is an integral part of the social networking experience, and strengthens its continuity, for we tend to proceed from the kinetic world to the cyber, for two main reasons: so that pre-established interpersonal relationships / connections can be maintained, and to interact with others of a similar mindset, to engage with them and share content. If interaction and microblogging of information are the running threads that pull people together across the fabric of Twitter, giving it form in the minds of its users, then the symbolism of shared facts and opinions, the retweeting of others as an extension of “voice” (to endorse or inform), and the various media formats available to enhance meaning, are its embroidery.

In cyberspace, the limits of physical proximity and distance are broken down by the immediacy of the internet. Time-zones permitting, two people may interact in such a way that was once unimaginable. Bonds are formed across nations, cultures and societies are experienced and learned about on both academical and personal levels. World travel is, for the moment, not a physical reality for me – but on Twitter, I am granted the freedom to walk through the minds of friends and acquaintances, with the content of tweets acting as both their voices and as guiding lights, while moving through unknown areas. As a friend put it to me yesterday, it is rather incredible when you stop to think about it – people are not really standing with us, talking to us; they are tapping away on their phones and computers, often with no one else in the room. It this suspension of disbelief that we have accepted as the norm – great streams of information flowing past, and static profiles that we have come to accept as personalities, with the profile picture symbolic of a person – even when it does not actually feature their visage.

Friends have told me of visualizing Twitter as a large open space – typically a theatre, room or hall – with a constant flux-flow of information roiling past in all directions, as though standing at the crux of a highway. I tend to see that vast space filled with slanting bars of different shades of pale light, with a high ceiling and small, dark alcoves along the walls for more intimate conversations; there is a harlequin of sound coming from an ever-changing multitude of people, standing and sitting in groups, or alone and apart. This image is not so much an actual vision as a sensation, such as you would find in dreams, or in the colours which appear behind my eyes when listening to music. Less form, more presence.

At the same time, I am aware of that information constantly rushing past, to the point where – if I am tired or not feeling well – it is enough to bring on giddiness, and there is the need to step back and say nothing at all, to log off and leave well alone. This “channelling” aspect may arise from the use of Twitter lists, which collect people into easily accessible “communities.” This has the advantage of saving time – rather than pin-balling across the main timeline to gauge an atmosphere relevant to a situation, or to find information on a particular topic, I can skim across tweets and links holding key words which, in turn, form patterns. There is less of a need to clamber over many disjointed tweets, which all have their own relevancy, but are not a part of the constellation I seek.

The main appeal of keeping such lists, though, is when I stumble across a conversation between friends, which has grown legs and run on for hours, across nations and time-zones. I can choose to engage, or to sit back and watch it all unfold, thus learning more about the lives and personalities of people who I may never meet in the “real world”, but who have become so dear to me through almost daily interactions, our sharing of miscellaneous and personal information, and something which goes beyond words, but is often found in a single photograph or song.

Angel Olsen, “White Fire”
(courtesy of Ansh @lightnarcissus)

Who are we as writers, without words? We are bad tempers and blue-black moods; we are irritability found in crumpled paper and deleted files. We are frantically-stirred coffee, and empty bottles. We are red-rimmed insomniac eyes, or the lowest level of sleep, difficult to dredge for dreams or to wake from. We are …
Finding other outlets.

I have thought on this quite a bit, in light of recent events: a maelstrom of global disorder, and tragedy spanning nations. The past few weeks have been rough, and my voice has paled and faded to the back of my throat and mind, like the first frost-rimed leaves of autumn.

There are needle-points of heat behind my eyes, with each liveblog update and tweet coming from the most recent conflict in Gaza – and a silver-foil fear that lines my throat whenever I try to speak up about it, for fear that my lack of real knowledge and context will inadvertently upset someone representing either side. I find myself falling back evermore on symbolism, just to get across some kind of emotion that refuses to be turned into words. It often feels as though no amount of research can ever do it all justice, or permit me to understand what is going on, beyond the sickening lurch in my stomach each time I hear or read about yet more casualties and loss of life on either side. The grim reality of lives in war is pain, injury and death, and more often than not for the ones who take no active part in the conflict. Yet the very fact that we are willing to gather this information, to share it for the benefit of others so that we might come to a better understanding of a situation we are not part of but still feel wrenching sorrow and horror for, is symbolic of a wish to keep hold of the wider world. The pictures of shrines to the fallen, the videos of military advancement, all weave a complex narrative that allow us to engage on a closer, often very raw level. The image of one tiny, frightened child, sums up countless years of pain.

In truth, I had forgotten the power of pictures. I thought there would always be words to find, to portray an image of events and circumstances in the world. But how best to describe the silent-screaming horror and pale numbness which strung out so many on Thursday 17th July, when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down close to the Ukraine-Russia border?. Sometimes, only a photograph – the careful kind, symbolic rather than gratuitous – can encapsulate the pain and confusion felt on all sides.

flags half mast
Matthew Price (‏@BBCMatthewPrice)
“Half mast in Holland – waiting for remains of first #MH17 passengers to be returned.”

On that afternoon, when the sunlight seemed the same as it ever had, Twitter became all but audible in a seething wave of international voices, circling around and aimed at the perpetrators. Tweets spread with forest-fire speed, purporting to hold evidence of the pro-Russian separatists’ involvement in the plane crash. Even as retractions were made and tweets deleted by the DNR, the world took a great stride ahead, with information spread too far and too wide for recall. This may yet play a vital part in bringing the guilty ones to justice; a fitting example of solidarity on social media, drawing people together as a collective voice of humanity, in the face of tragedy.

And yet, at the end of it all, we are still left with this lost feeling; this sense of Where do we go from here? The world is currently in a state of upheaval, with many people feeling off-kilter. I know I have an itch at the back of my mind, wondering how to get on with everyday life while things stand as they are … and not still, for very long. We’ll see what the second half of the year brings.

In the meantime, we fall back on the voices and the minds of those around us. In seeking solace, we can look outward as well as inward, and pass on pieces of ourselves to the world – the things that matter, which have caught our emotions, and suit the circumstance. In bringing something to the narrative that will sum up what cannot be put into ordinary, plain speech, we leave our unique marks upon the community. There is solidarity in symbolism.

Song in Space
(via corrie_corfield)

Round Two: Dream/Nightmare

You know those dreams, those nightmares, which seem so real that you question nothing but your own sanity, for fear that it might break under the fear?

Sitting in this pale morning light, I am off-kilter, and feel outside of Time. I need to get this all down before I forget.

I was perfectly rational, lucid, in waiting for a near-unknown correspondent at an old inn we had decided upon as a venue for our finally meeting. The rooms seemed pleasant enough, innocuous in that way of golden sunlight flooding one space, before falling into strangely dense pockets of shadow … The air felt clotted, claustrophobic, but then – upon wandering further along narrow corridors, over creaking uneven floorboards, you would come upon yet more gold bars of light, and you would twitch and feel yourself to be silly and paranoid, rubbing your cheek in irritated confusion at the welter of nerves under the skin. There’s nothing wrong with this place.

I was waiting for him, that correspondent, and the sun was climbing over the sky, while the landlady – a woman pretty in her plainness, with brown hair and a purple t-shirt that you felt were not her first choices – carried a broom about like a gun, or a pint glass like a grenade, and was cordial with the regulars (of which there were quite a few, scattered over the green-gold lawn and inside on tall stools set on tottering flagstones) while positively bristling with abrasiveness at all newcomers, such as me. I only realize now what she was trying to do; who she was trying to protect.

Yet more pockets of darkness, where there should have been light. So incongruous.

She was trying to turn people away, having suffered enough pain and abuse at the hands of the other two staff members – an old man, the janitor, and a younger man, the cleaner, who basically ran the establishment. They were both very powerful, I could sense that, but kept it hidden beneath drab clothing and silence … But every now and then, I saw the corner of one mouth curl up, and I know enough in this life (spread to the dream one) to take care of such signs. So it came as no real surprise when the younger man cornered me on the stairs, where I waited in black-gold light, in such trembling heat (one of those summer evenings when it is best to stay indoors, though the air is so sluggish and thick) – no surprise, then, when he pretended to be my correspondent, while hiding in the shadows.

But I knew his voice, though I had heard it about as many times as I had the one I waited for, and called him out. And when he tried to put his hands on me, I ran. I ran up a long corridor, and found a bathroom that was more like an indoor swimming pool, or some alpine spa; sheer rocks of plastic, ferns trailing into different kinds of water; the swilling kind to bathe in, the cascading kind to feign wilderness. And more of that light, pouring in at a wide-eye window, but even that couldn’t dispel the real fear surrounding this place, especially at this point… What need for the sides of a bath, ridged up in the water that is basically a pool in itself? How did they keep the water confined; where did it go? I don’t know why this should bother me so.

They were powerful, those men, but not powerful enough – when both tried to rape me, as I made my escape out the back door, I swung such blows at both that I sent them spinning, with a force I would never hold in real life; I whacked them both upside the head, you would have loved it. Laid them out flat, and I saw them then, small and –

But I ran, and the landlady followed me out. I saw her tears then, on her face, and the hatred and love she felt for me, for being able to escape while she could not. What kept her there, what power did they have over her and others who may have worked there, unseen, unknown?

There was something so beautiful, so wrong about that place; it reminded me of the warren full of snares in Watership Down, with the sleek and well-fed rabbits, whose lives seemed so perfect, yet they knew only resignation. There was real evil in that place, in the shining wires – the unseen enemy, that is exactly how this dream felt. They tried to draw the Sandleford warren rabbits in, to have them fall upon the hands of the enemy instead. Only Strawberry felt enough remorse to follow the escape, to beg forgiveness.

Silverweed’s poem, full of prescience and sorrow. I saw it in the landlady’s face.

No doubt after this entry is done, I’ll feel normal again, and will feel silly for writing this all down, and for sending a message to my own correspondent; yet the one in the dream never did turn up, though I had the feeling he was watching from the sidelines, as though this were a test. Possibly laughing quietly to himself. It felt like a test, and as ever, as in reality, my anger won out. I have thrown punches before to save myself, but in doing so, have I endangered others? When a childhood neighbour tried it on with me as we babysat my little brother, I locked myself and the latter in the master bedroom and stayed there until he had gone back downstairs to raid my father’s fridge again. And when my mother came home and got me to unlock the door, and sat on the edge of the bed to ask what had happened, my silence didn’t last long; not as long as the next one would, so many years.

I was so angry that I told her exactly what had happened. But whether it was dealt with in an appropriate manner, I cannot say. It was a long time ago, and I was a child still; not quite thirteen.
He told me he wanted to give me an early birthday present.
I told him No.

Right now, that dream is behind my eyes, and feels all too real. Is it possible for a second act? To go back, to save the landlady and others? Is it possible to meet my correspondent? Why send me there, knowing what was inside, and my history?
I suppose it is just a projection of me overcoming my fears, of using that anger to carry me forward, this inability to back down, this fear of losing to people who try to control me.

But even as I stride forward, I am aware of others falling back, of those still vulnerable. I don’t know. I don’t know why I felt the need to tell him about La Jetee, and Sans Soleil; to watch them as I was instructed by the second teacher, alone and back-to-back. I don’t know if he would care, if it would mean anything to him at all – I am 97% he won’t respond, either because he doesn’t know how to, or because he is that angry with me. It doesn’t matter anymore. Maybe that’s why I could finally get the words out.

This feels like something that has gone on ages; that has gone on long enough. This life, always on the run from some fear or another, of speaking up and speaking out.

Now it’s time to get up and go back to pretending at normality, which is basically what we are all doing anyway.

Here, at day’s end

A peach-gold glow spread over the sky this evening; the air was full of the satin-smell of roses in full bloom across gardens stitched with tall lavender and buddleia. Their heads were hung low with the weight of their thoughts, the dreams of the wandering bees. Such sticky sweetness to find, to follow the trail from one place to another, until home is a distant memory.

Tomorrow marks the birthday of my landlady’s twins. They are currently clambering over one another to be first to peek over the bannister, as their mother and a family friend lay out the arrangements for a party of “some significance.” One balloon has already ended its own life without compromise, in a bang so loud that the dog saw fit to rest her racing heart outside in the lush summer grass.

(Whenever she thinks herself alone in the house, she will lift her long nose and let loose a soul wavering in the howl of ancient people; the wild roads call her blood still, but it is my voice from this eyrie heart, which brings her back. I would call with her though, had I the words of the wolf; such an aching testament to what was, and what might have been.)

These two beautiful children will be a year older, and I have known them for less time than it takes to walk from one shore to another. They have grown on me, in the way that some kids do, until I am surrogate big sister and confidante both; when their giggling whispers grew too loud tonight, I sent them on their way with the promise of a wake-up call first thing, with a breakfast fit for tiny kings and queens. That I am not much of a cook, is beside the point. You can’t go too wrong with pancakes and maple syrup.

And, watching their mother glide about the conservatory, hanging balloons and banners without needing to stretch, I was hit with such a sudden pang in my chest that I had to duck away, to stare up at the darkening sky and find stars … To remind myself that I chose this writer’s life, this solitude. This illness, this not-for-me-danke, this wandering road that still goes ever on.

I am not immortal, and that is what I would ask of myself, for a child. And the sort of dedication – the perseverance – which I know is not inherent of my personality. Whatever dreams may come tonight, let them hang on the supermoon, on a horizon boundless. It has been a dark week; I could use a little light.

In letting things go, I don’t make easy decisions. I’m a pack-rat, and tend to hoard that which gives me pleasant nostalgia, the sort of electrifying thoughts that are reminiscent of another life.
A life I could know, and never Know. Words remain within their boundaries until turned into experience. Into incidence, circumstance, situation, action. Currently, I have –

– only this heart.
And a dim light, in the west.

Tomorrow, I think I will escape to the City, to wave at the diamond-teeth along the skyline, and to wait for the frantic spill of energy at home to abate. I am as much confused by children as inclined to empathize with them. They work upon instinct; there is little, if any premeditation. When a small boy passed me on the street in 2005 and – turning to his mother – asked Why is that boy wearing a skirt? (pointing at me), it was yet another kick in the shins from Whoever, that I really should be taking more care of myself. I wore cropped hair then, and the raw bones of illness. There was little to distinguish me from my teenage brother.

I saw a photo of him earlier, posted by our mother on Facebook. He has become a man, quite without my noticing.

In trying to see all the world at once, I miss a great many things.
In trying to keep others safe, I am the one cutting the rose from its roots.

I hope the twins enjoy their party, with the sort of gut-ache giggling-wildness that only small things can really appreciate, like a kitten chasing a bubble and knowing itself to be outside of Time. That, more than anything, would make me smile, come tomorrow evening. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Breaking my lip upon this thorn.