Those times when you’re feeling too much and speech gets lost in the folds of fatigue. When you’re feeling too much and can’t call a friend, or stomp it off, or sit in a park and stare through trees. When you’d trudge to the corner shop, if you could, hoard jam rolls and wine for crying; or stand rounds at a pub you’ve never set foot in. You’d dunk morsels of breaded past in each glass, shout ‘keep them coming!’; fall asleep in a book you found on a bench, still between billowing lines. First light you’d take a knife to the bedroom wall, carve a way to a sun-lit now. You’d climb every belfry in town to roar down from, or, should all fail, wave a white flag, with her name on.
When a friend dies, too much is just not enough.
Hospital, for xyz test. First patient, quiet affair. After, quick dip into coffee shop. Rudolph’s clogged jelly nose quivers on chocolate log. Take a jiggle over a jingle any time! On way home first surge of pain, sudden, as if flicked by a switch. Next few hours, midst deepening fatigue, it fans out and intensifies, until verily, verily, if you could speak you’d swear on King Lear’s life that you crashed down those castle stairs and hit every cobblestone, turret to potter’s field. Each bone clangs to a different tune. Soon you’re all but brittled out, a fractured creature, with gigantic, useless claws (they hurt till last). Something Giacometti might have cast in bronze, cool and cruel.
Abjection. No inner sense of ‘us’, no reach, no touch. PEM doesn’t sound like much.
Credible year, the sweet with the rough. Downward slope chez moi, but:
Heard (and spoke) poetry twice; lay in grass by last unshorn lavender field. Talked more, picked up the tab with huffs and puffs. Horrified by politics of separation. What? Who? Forgone collusion. Grateful for #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, intersectionality. Time for self-examination.
Summer, garden birds fled building noise; light impaled on dirty window pane. Wanderer squatted in cherry tree, her antlers tickle when she kisses me. Oh, let me swoon a little! Saw my mother – mutual solicitude revived. No books, although bought a few; no gazing up at sequined sky. I fall long before night.
Treat of purple trouser suit. Next year will droop in style. Winter now. If I stay still, why doesn’t time?
Nothing of me that did not fade. Head down from cloud with blades in hair. Limbs barbed with pain. Hands crudely carved and not plugged in. Eyes sport a coat of Vaseline. Memory is holed up in a bur.
Flame-throwing skirt adjusts to clothes rail smoulder-mode. Harangues the tired one in viperous tones. Call this vernacular? If ears could bolt…
Practice run for bigger things? Naaaa. Made the most? Ta. Tiny though, and all ties cut.
Some days the phrase ‘you’re just not good enough’ is all pervasive. It’s the shape accrued frustration takes, a crust, or coat, too tight to wriggle out of. Doubt thrives on silence (the chronic, polyester kind); when radio is the only voice you pluck the air for adjuration. And there she waits, your girdled guide, smacks bloodless lips and drools disdain: your art, your writing; your sleep, your rising; your ability to connect, converse, consider; your quests for energy and cure; upswing of any sort – whatever you try is veined with lack.
Red letter days are those with room for conversation. You gush in half-remembered, rampant tongues; hush falls before the need is gone. Just time to carve an ear into the ground, and while fatigue declares she’s won another round, the joys you stumbled on fan out in quiet jubilation.
One for the dictionary! When you’re just about ‘well’ enough to try again:
As often as mind has room I fume a failproof lookalike who strolls about town. Oh, the places she has seen! Priceless when fancy factualises for a wisp of time. A caper on my scooter – first in a year, or two. Almost called out – look at me! – like a child riding her bike without stabilisers on. Hung a while on armchair at the bookshop twenty doors from mine, tried a little conversation. Turns out a semblance of normality is quite a strain.
In a matter of minutes home and supine again. Slept in clothes that night, entwined with spectre. Days later the idea of a repeat seems preposterous, but: elsewhere was achieved, momentarily. Blue plaque please?