Tuesday, 27 October 2015

i LiKE HOW YOUR EYES ADJUST TO THE DARK

                you become more aware of your other senses
you stretch out your hands
                run your palm against the wall
slow your breathing so that footsteps
                their creaks and thuds
                direct you:
                                echolocation
your pupils expand and for a split second
                you understand how cameras work
but the lights come back on and your arms drop limp like a ragdoll's
your eyes tell you all you need to know
sometimes you forget how blinding it can be
                but you adjust
                as fast as you adjust to hot water in the shower and the cold air
when you exit in december even march because no matter what winter is too
                damn long.

i enjoy that moment
                before my eyes absorb enough rays to form images
before it calibrates itself to suit my needs
                there's fear at the back of my throat
my hands don't know where to search like i'm a
zombie (sleepwalkers that freak out their spouses a lot
both somewhat bleary as they couldn't see in the dark)
when the lights are out
                we connect by touch
                bumping into each other
after a while you work out little details about someone                                                                       
                like how they always lisp their 's' when they're impassioned
                the light might cast a shadow over their dimple
                                but you never noticed how they hum themselves to sleep


the darkness lets us see things in a new light.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Ribbon

Mrs. Josephine's Dance Studio was always cold in the summer, like a dog's nose pressed against your thigh. I went there, near the classes, listenin to the music, they got violins and drums sometimes. Tap tap tap. Some rooms had louder taps, real sharp and crisp that reminded me like construction sites outside Grandfather's window. I didn't sit near those rooms, with hard shoes and metal clicks, but light an soft, padding, tap. Mrs. Josephine had yellow hair like a banana, and wore pink or white. She was pink. She stayed extra long, the little girls with fluffy skirts had gone and she would stay, dancin and dancin. I wish I coulda but I'm too fat. Even when I was short I was big, no way to twirl without knocking over the potted plant outside the dance rooms, belly poking out of Grandfather's shirts.
            She threw something in the garbage, one day she did, all mad with her yellow hair loose stickin to her face sweaty. I pushed over the can turned it all inside out it was a shoe. A ballerina slipper. It was white. It wasn't much bigger than my hand, but even when I was short I had big hands able to cup birds and two or three kittens. I stuffed it in my pants so Grandfather wouldn't see it but he did, told me to take them off show him what I had. Even then he wasn't strong, but he was mad told me it weren't right, pulled it broke. But today I still got the ribbon, the ribbon that wrapped around Mrs. Josephine's tiny ankles like they made of glass, so fragile I coulda snapped them. Even with my hands so big, they was small.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

What's Behind the Door of Room 101: Breaking Fragile Things

Obsessed. That's the word Grandfather snarled at me when he saw me sortin through my box, moving and cleanin and taking better care of my things than my dog or him. I don't have too many things. My things are presents, things I found. They're delicate, soft as butterfly wings or hard as glass. One rough move and they could tear, shatter. My fingers are so big that they squish ants when I try to see 'em, I too strong and hurt things. My dog got a bone on his leg, on the ankle part above his foot, that's so thin and delicate I could snap like a turkey wishbone. Some things I'm allowed to break, others I'm not. I've learnt this. I told her that the bird had hit the window, broke its neck. My fingers twitch towards Grandfather's neck when he sleeping, pull snap, twist break. Life is so fragile, innit it? I'm scared of myself. Scared that one day, when I'm setting out china plates, I'll crush them in my hand, feel the blood drip down my hand and drop them, throw them, hurt them.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Most Important Relationship

I only known Rory for half a year, but he's my favourite person. I love him more than I love finding quarters in the fountain outside Terry Park, more than small things made of glass, dog eating sherbet ice-cream, and sometimes even more than Grandfather not waking up when I get home. Rory gives me things. He gives me things to eat and hugs. I squish him and giggle when we hug, he's so small. He isn't from here, but somewhere with lots of 'i's and 'k's, maybe. He said once they got guns there. "Do you know how to shoot a gun?" I asked him when we were walkin passed the shops. He was gonna buy me a bread sweet.
            He never did anything bad, he said, he never hurt anybody. I wish I could pack him in a box and bring him home with me, live him in my room and take care of him. He buys me things. I want to hug him so tight sometimes, break him I feel, I scared. I get real scared. I remind myself, I gotta be gentle. I hold his wrinkled brown hands, like paper over books without their covers, tiny.
            Rory runs a shop, sells videos. I never seen a video, I told him once. Never seen a video or a cinema film. I want to eat yellow pop, I said, popcorn. Eat it with salt and melted butter, get that butter on my fingers and lick my fingers clean. Rory laughed. I like it when Rory laughs, makes me warm and I smile. "We go see movie," he told me, "we go see movie together, okay?"
            We were sitting down at the back of the theatre, my head wasn't blocking anyone then. There were silly characters that made me laugh and I understood the story, there was a girl and two boys, two of them made a kiss near the end, the boy and the girl. I was crying and blowing my nose into my sweater. The tears were good and when I licked my lips it was salty and butter. Rory wanted to know why I was crying, so I turned and I pulled him in close, I hugged him round the shoulders and I told him, I said, "I love you." And Rory said "I love you also, I do." I only known Rory since it rained and the flowers come out, but now the leaves are orange and he is my friend.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Seven or Eight Things I Know About Him

His Mother's Baby
The day after his mother screamed and his father drove her to the hospital, he found a towel laden with a red liquid staining her cream coloured carpet. He threw it in the garbage bin in the bathroom, the one with hand-painted yellow ducks swimming on it. When his father drove home, alone, three days later with inflamed eyes and alcohol ridden breath, he was found tucked inside his Hot Wheels bed, the blood of his late mother and sister on his hands.

The Dog
The Boxer was shabby, ugly, its fur matted with dirt and its nails far overgrown. Its hair was raised as it looked at him in fear. He reached forwards with his grubby little hands, sticky from the mud and the popsicle on his face and the booger he had picked from his nose, and grabbed on the dog, pulling its skin and massaging it. Like any other dog, this one reached forwards to lick the leftover peach from his face, giving him sopping, wet kisses that he was happy to return. He was lucky that dogs, especially that one, were tolerant creatures, especially near children, because even though he stood two feet taller and eighty pounds heavier than the other kids who played on the monkey bars, his skin was still like Play-Doh, tears were always near the surface, and he still had four baby teeth.

The Sunroom
Every day at three o'clock, the little children would close their eyes and yawn like tiny mewling kittens, drag their blankets into the glass-roofed Sunroom and curl up like pillbugs and soak up the sun. He loved the Sunroom. When he turned six, he was told that he was too old for napping. He tried crying for three days, but he wasn't as cute as the other children. He was big and homely and reminded the supervisors about everything they hated about themselves. He snuck into the Sunroom and didn't leave on the Friday. They locked the door, not seeing him inside the largest empty clay pot. He got hungry and wailed, but no one was there to hear. He threw a rock at the glass and went to the hospital, unconscious and covered in cuts. The principal made an announcement the next Monday that the Sunroom was closed and would not reopen.

First Criticism
When he was four years old, he was stuffed in a suit and his hair was combed with fervour in order to please his mother's father. His pudgy hands were clasped together and he was forced to keep eye contact with his grandfather's surly stare. "Well? Doesn't he talk?" He opened his mouth and gurgled, his thick tongue trying to make sense of his grandfather's name. "What's wrong with him? Is he stupid? Mina, feed him less."

Listening In
A Sunday walk with his dog, passing, hear, "Not many years left, not many at all."

Self-Criticism
"There're doors I can't fit through, bottles I don't know how to open."

Fantasies
A world so simple, with everyone he loves and no one he hates. A world where there's an infinite supply of Oreo ice-cream with little sprinkles, where his grandfather never existed and where he had a little sister. A world where his dog could tell him its name.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Weather Girl

With one hand clutching the rudder, a girl with bubblegum pink hair manned the sails of The Astrium. The salty sea spray stung her bare back. The rope she'd paid fifty-eight sea urchins for cut into her hand; droplets of red stained her ship's deck. Her shaggy dog sniffed her wound in concern.
            The gales were getting harder to control, forcing her to knot the ropes. Sucking her hand, the girl dipped her foot into the water, enjoying the cool liquid running over it. She smiled to herself, teeth dyed with blood, longing to dive inside and feel the seaweed tickle her ribs, her thighs.
            Her dog yelped, skittering backwards. While he was drinking from the ocean, a fat goldfish had taken its chance to bite the dog's cracked nose. The girl plucked the fish out of the water by its tail, scolded it, and swallowed it whole.
            "C'mon, boy!" she yelled, hoisting the injured dog to its feet, "We've got a job to do!"
            She dried her hands on his matted fur, wishing that she could be covered in warm fur instead of squishy brown skin. Readjusting her hold, she untied the ropes and heaved. She braced herself against the strong wind that was towing her to the sinking whirlpool in the water. "I'll beat you!" she screamed, tightening her grip.
            Her sailing sextant spun across the deck as the ship's bow lifted in the air. Its sun-bleached sails bulged and strained under the force of the wind. And then—the boat lifted, leaving a stream of algae painted water dripping beneath it. The boat gained altitude, sailing higher into the black storm. The girl adjusted the ropes, her hair frosted with clouds, until the wind rushing against her bony hips and small breasts forced her to sit. She pulled her dog close for warmth.
            The girl laid back against the ship, tired from her daily chore. She would let it fly itself for a while—it always knew how to calm the storm.
            "Make it summer," she whispered into the hull, patting the knots. A bolt of lightning tickled her toes, lulling her to sleep.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Black Liquorice

I walk down from the church where my grandparents got married. Past the thousand year old tombstones, eroded beyond legibility, clothed in moss. On my left, the Vicar's house, on a true cobblestone road. A hanging sign, 'Ye Olde Eight Bells Shoppe.' Door rings a jingle, doesn't catch on the latch. Postcards of the Christchurch Priory, expensive scale models, knick-knacks and collectors' items (Thelwell ponies) in the back. Quaint cups here and there, a tea towel for dad's mum. The real candy's in the front. Toffee, fudge—whatever your parents can feed you that'll glue your teeth together for a while.
            The cashier's a child of the weathered streets, grown to care for her town in turn. She waits patiently for my order, watching me stare slack-jawed at my options. Welsh Mint Humbugs, Rhubarb and Custard, Treacle Toffee Sherbert Lemons, jars full of no-names and stuff I'd think was for grannies. I ask for one chocolate caramel fudge and one vanilla swirl, please, as the bell chimes, a little blonde ringleted girl and her mum come in. There's an exchange of names—Marian, the cashier, Sara, the girl—the words 'mummy', and 'could I have some black liquorice, please' in her little British accent.
            Marian calls for Nicola, teenager in the back who hadn't made a peep. Her brown hair loose like the hem at the base of her sleeve, bookish. They all know each other. Marian and Sara's mum are cool, calm and collected. Nicola runs an uncertain hand across the labels 'Cola Cubes,' 'Butter Scotch,' 'Blackcurrant Gummies,' searching for Sara's treat. Marian adds my purchases, weighs them a few times, Nicola keeps going to enter Sara's purchase in. My dad and I silently finding the whole exchange endearing, sweet. As I exit the shop, candy in mouth, eyes on thatch roofs, I say, "Now this is what I thought England would be like."