Fragile as ancient glass unbroke, too exquisite to recall, they rise. In this no-place between sleep and waking there is no choosing. I press my fingertips to the bone of my breast, bone to bone, to feel time pass.
These times, long time, are built on fleeting moments that pierce me. Before the brushing of teeth and making of tea I am with you on the threshold still, called back, shored against, your eyes intense and blue.
Tag Archives: relationships
The day her scarf slipped away, blue/black fingerprints necklacing her flesh.
I write in pencil; words freight pain.
I don’t know when it started. Early on, I think. The morning he got up and there was nothing for breakfast, no food in the house except tomato soup? He ate half and tipped the rest down the sink before leaving for work. She’d laughed about it later. What difference does it make, he’d said, what types of food you eat at what times of day?
Everything slipped. And how can a man vanish in an instant? My father gone to kill him.
He said the silence of the world had been absolute. It was assenting, perhaps.
And I learned how much I was loved. Violence like lightning, splitting the tree, its heartwood exposed in stark light. He would be ashamed to know this, a gentle man, an unwilling teacher of opposites.
These are two related pieces about a time in Venice. The first is new, the second appears in Between Dusk and Darkness.
Pen and ink
This could only happen in a foreign land.
I peel away from the blinding midday sun, from you, and dip my head beneath the heavy stone lintel.
I take a long time choosing.
The Campanile. Dov’era, com’era.
She stretches up and touches my face, incensing the air as she leans into me.
Did you see me step through? I have to go. The pads of her fingertips are black with age and ink. We will not meet again.
Mi dispiace, I say, as if she were mistaken.
Outside, you take the drawing from me without curiosity and wet your thumb to wipe the smudge from my cheek.
Now I know it was there.
It’s easy to blame you for this rush of desolation, my clean fingertips.
They are soft leather, but don’t quite fit. Remember? The tips of my toes touch the ground as I walk. Where were we going? Coffee and bread, something warm and sweet, a rising cry. The drifting signatures of unseen lives. I trail my hand along rose-coloured bricks. Our footsteps echo and I look back. Your eyes are bluer here. We move through pale amber, resinous and slowing; this street is endless, we are fixed here already.
You gather my hair, slowly, and slowly wind it over and around your hand and lift it up, slowly, above the nape of my neck so I am cooled; the day is hotter now. A cyclist weaves a silent semi-circle, a tyre brushing the kerb; it is we who should have moved, but in that moment we were sculpted there.
We turn and retrace our steps, upward-sloping, and on the stiff white sheets the bag of oranges spilling open. You returned with them before I was up; the day stretches back and back. This room with its pale walls and long linen-covered bolster and crumbling stone balcony where later we stand, leaning out into the day, segmenting oranges, one after the other, the juice sweet as sugar and the tips of my toes black with the dust of Venice.