Textling #16

Awake since 2.30 am, something in me rearing to go. Body said no. Brain not up to much either, but a word swam into consciousness (probably wearing water wings): layabout. Thought I’d look it up, found these heartening equivalents: deadbeat, slob, slug, sluggard, loafer, idler, lazybone. Lead-swinger! The latter sounds hard work (throw me an atom and I will have a go). Lazybone is almost tender; the others have a stink of condescension, derision, scorn, and I pinch my nose to no avail. Oh, and what about sloth – after all a mortal sin?

I do lie about a lot (and don’t lie about it, although I’d rather you thought I’m up and doing something). The problem is: these terms of ensnarement (and listening to the news) feed something in me that, despite better knowledge, feels along these lines, esp. now my faltering hands have dropped all making: that I am good for nothing (much), and that my place in the world is beleaguered. Shame is the operative word. And it swims without water wings.


Textling #14

Insomnia scoops eyes from hollows, the better to see you with; strips skin and sky of constellations; licks innermost with toxic tongues. Sews daytime shut. Bundles, with shreds of night, old socks, a fright or two; pours petrol over. Strikes a pose in glaring light.

I beg, this witching hour, for a count of silence and a hundredweight of swoon.

Textling #13

Let’s be prosaic for a while, get to the (heavily edited) banalities of daily life. Bath every so often (that would be telling); hair wash fortnightly; cutting of toenails over days (after: blood moon slivers arranged by size). Food eaten from plastic dishes and paper plates (carrying crockery from microwave to table calamitous). Drinks sipped from glasses, half full (stable when standing; weight-in-hand inclined to spill).

I meant to talk about the sequence of infinitesimal steps (pyjamas to fresh clothes), that make taking a bath such an effort, but it is just too intimate. Can’t see you taking time to consider each and every gesture (you’ll do them daily, without a second thought), so will give you the lowdown (action-filled!) on baking cake. Not in the slightest so inclined, but needs must:

Take book (or gadget) from …, place on table, find recipe, read. Assemble ingredients: from fridge (walk to, open door, choose, take items out, turn, place on table, turn back, close door – all of which could be broken down further); from cupboard (walk to, stretch/crouch, open door, rummage, take out, turn, place on table, turn back, take out more, place on table, turn, close door) – skipping details, I know, but this is a textling. Next: bowls, spoons, measuring cups. Electric mixer? Oh my.

And now the fun starts (if you like baking), but I’m bored, and you get the drift. It would take me a week or two to do the (much fragmented and meanwhile smelly) deed (and not much else). Subsidiary activity when stuff falls…

Arms like wilted celery today. Slip from pj’s into clean garb? Did manage trouser stage. Bath? Every so often.

Textling #12

At the moment I am a person in perpetual blur. Imagine a photo developing in a tray of chemical solution, releasing its image languidly, as if from nothing. At my worst I do the opposite: flat as a picture, I fade into a fog of white.

Or maybe focus is all there is? As desire, thinking, phone, book, and crochet hook become the stuff of dreams, I can only be, breath in, breath out.

Textling #11

My hands are often strange to me. By turn they seem crammed with cotton wool; are pulsing, throbbing things; battered, barbed, pierced, brittle, laced with pain. Lately I have felt them as fleshy leaves, like a plane tree’s, and big as table tops… These constant passages are bonkers, but within the realm of language. Fatigue is harder to describe; its effects are tangible though.

Here’s a label I gladly wore: artist. It’s what remained from life before, utterly different, quite the same. For years I crocheted and assembled, in the supine. While one thing after another fell away I slowly, steadily produced small, impassioned pieces. Occasionally I sent work to exhibitions – a tiny stake in the wider world. Well, exhaustion has dumbed my fingers down. I can’t make shape stitch sew draw paint, can hardly even hold.

Making brought pleasure, meaning, purpose, and a wavering confidence, held promise of connection. The loss of this gift, which I have to believe is reversible, pulls the ground from under. What adds insult to injury is that M.E., this blunting, debilitating illness, is still not fully recognised, support is hard to come by, research underfunded, and that – at mine – shame has become a permanent house guest.

Textling #10

Then fatigue throws a blanket over me, thick and felted, fills mind and limbs with hush. The nervous system catches fire though, stokes long forgotten pains, strikes hammer blows in curious places. I’d like to map them in red string, trace their trajectories – on skin, through muscles, organs, bones. Always, and above all, I ache to create, scale the gap between metaphor and reality.

First to the business of crawling out from under, give those heavy folds the slip. Pick up the reins of this shrunk life: Bath! Speech! Clean clothes! Eyes wide, so a bit of world pours in…

Blanket and I are inseparable now. It is stitched to my shoulders, bears down as I try and drape myself in words. I’ll gladly wear my pants on top if ever it turns into a super duper power cape.