All entries for November 2007
November 19, 2007
The man who called himself Death waits for her as she scrunches through the shingle at the bottom of her cave towards him. Sometimes she steadies herself against the damp walls, and sometimes she steps over small streams that have dripped down from the high dark ceiling and its stalactite teeth. He, Cassius, waits for her without much of a face. He is tall and well built and dressed in black. He is clean headed and handsome. The girl stands before him in the noisy cave and amongst the splashes and rattles of water and wind she hears his voice. The voice does not echo as it is not spoken anywhere except inside the top of her head.
‘Why do you come here?’ it says. It is the question of the teacher who already knows the answer.
‘Because I love you’ She replies with an urgent twinge of sentimentality
He places his hands on her shoulders.
‘And when I am not here?’
Speaking back in her mind she is eloquent.
‘Because I am enamoured with my suffering but cannot live through it’
He kisses the side of her neck.
‘I do not want to’
He is gone with her words even though she lets herself believe through necessity that he is always there if the darkness frightens her or the demons come, and that he loves her despite her own ridiculousness. She looks around her cave and crouches to a stream to play with pebbles for a while. She likes to watch the colour rushing into them as the are wetted, and it dry from their skins till they are dull again. She returns to her bathroom and the mirror she stares in. Her hands have gone cold from resting heavily on the sides of the porcelain basin. In the mirror her eyes look back at her bloodshot and reproachful, wet and burning. For a moment paralysis means she can only scream in her head. Behind her a figure that is not Death capers, something out of a movie she recently saw, but less bloodsmeared and smaller and greyer. It is everywhere about her today: when she opens cupboards it looks at her from them, when she opens doors it hides behind them, when she looks out windows its face is pressed against them. With a pink the bathroom light goes out. She returns to the bed where she lies staring at a vaguely discernable ceiling with shifting faces in. The creature approaches the bedside slowly and stands over her.
‘Why have you been hiding from me’ She speaks voicelessly to the space above her head.
‘Why have you been hiding from yourself’ These are quite possibly her own words replying to her. The blackness of her bedroom shivers. She closes her eyes and sees herself with Cassius at the top of a high cliff that plunges into the abyss below: the abyss where her cave is and her world is. Up here there is sunlight and he has angel wings. God is above them and they are kneeling clutching each other in the radiance of the sky and the quick air. You do not have to be in the abyss. She is on a hill above the sea marrying him. She is in a bed again but it is not her own and she is being held by her guardian in red sheets and dappled sunlight like she wrote about once for a character who was not her.
‘Stay with me forever and it should be this’
‘What if you are temptation’
It occurs to her that as much as she has needed her ghost she has never trusted him to be the way of goodness. This does not mean she loves him any less. Her world has brought her up in a culture of mistrust, particularly of happiness, beauty and good fortune. It is not in her blood to be happy without fearing some consequence. Cassius makes love to her and she is in her own bed oncemore, the tiger Ragnarok pacing the room in the dying throbs of her gratification. Figures surround her and she sleeps.
though the summer was not much.
There is a squirrel in the shaded garden.
At the top edge of the land
crunch in the copse arms.
The white tan dog bounds
over the disordered grass
that is swallowing up the rabbits
and the gates.
Here she stamps,
following behind with a novel in her hand
and the slow steps of a town bred farmer
with stock to check.
Clobby droppings of the brock,
those illadvised blackberries
seeding his latrines.
The smell of bog and bracken,
foxes and ferns.
In the scrub quiet it beats fast
of a low hart
and her terrified blood.
Pigeons shiver into a warm sky.
Streamflies fat in the estate pats.
Grass like rivers,
too thick to solve,
pours over everything.
I am but what I am none cares nor knows
the trees sigh and repeat those woes
all those rows of roots
and disintegrating leaves.
The terrier finds out the
in their shaded bunker of dust.
In the skinny bushes
they blink at insects:
boulders of folded knees and
She picks the thorns out of her legs
while she is stooped
to look in every sleepy brown eye
for the white harbingers of blindness.
The novel swells through touch;
The brambles surge.