Spine loose in your bar room seat, feet kicked up between the empties crowing new year, new me to the few that still linger. Pretending there’s still time to make change.
Crossed knives are a bad omen in the same way loose chords are an asking moment. Finger to an open flame flesh against a bared blade, split second decisions for splitting. I should not taste the nail head, should not press my tongue to the buckle of its pockmarked tooth, see if there is any bite left in the iron, if it will be the last one in a row. Six feet seems like such a long way to tumble. I would look like a marionette with my tangle of strings about my throat. Heart skittering like a humming bird still trapped inside its cage.
Is there a quota for mercy? Do they give it to the younger angels, take their hands on clear mornings, and steer them to the edges of clouds where they can peer over the banks into the depths of blue beneath. All our little prayers bubbling up to be popped by small celestial palms crumb dusted from the mercy their mothers have parcelled out so they can toss it to the mortals below. And do some of us know the places to stand on those clear mornings where the young ones chatter and rustle their down like tissue. Which ones crumble mercy to dust so it falls evenly and ripples far, the others who wodge their palms into pebbles that punch through but settle far too soon. Who’s voice calls them home. Mary Mother of God have mercy, mercy on us all Vertigo & Ghosts by Fiona Benson
Tonight beasts broke loose and rose up roaring, their bright comet backs bleeding light from spectating stars trembling between each other, thankful for the distance. Close at hand we drew curtains, played peekaboo with things we’d thought buried. Only real if we see them.
It takes 725,000 pounds per square inch to transform carbon to diamond. Pressure forces the atoms to crystallise which sounds fragile in truth, like spun sugar, beautiful, but soluble. Yet they hitchhike magma flows, erupt without warning land where they may. The sort of precious men kill for. Rough cut they are still priceless. Polished, they still remember being carbon.
So it started with a broken laptop. Or maybe it started with your brother, pointing you towards a target, that wasn’t me by any means, but I was somewhere on the other side of it. Or maybe it started with an offer made to my Grandfather, which he passed onto my mother and her new husband. Or maybe it started with a newspaper ad, Welshmen need not apply. Or maybe it started in Ireland, with a broken engagement and a ferry ticket. Or maybe we are so far from the start there is no point loosing myself on the path back to it. The sun rose again, and the weather changed its tune but that’s not the start.
She call them lollygagger, adjusted the folds of her scarf, let them watch her fingers trace the sweep of her collarbone like a wink but not an invitation. Clutched at the other hand with smaller, damp digits unsure eyes flickered from her to the jackal-backed boys circling their cigarettes, tongues dragging across their teeth. Nothing to be afraid of dear.
One of the men lifted his head and looked at me as we sloped past the ash fields, and rows of toilers like grey bamboo canes if bamboo was stooped and bent with brittle hands knuckle white against the plastic handled hoes. Her hands, smaller, firmer, sure, came down on my shoulders shadowed his face with fear. An explanation in a classroom pretending it isn’t an excuse claims to be progress, claims to be a new world built on the broken bones of the last. Mothers scream during childbirth. There is blood and pain and sometimes death. We are lucky we are not all toiling. If the old world had their way who knows what would have happened? We are smarter these days we can laugh at the facts that shattered when the world changed. Who know what will happen at the next night rise.
A moment stretched is still a moment. Curled into the afterglow we looked relaxed, yet I felt your hands clawed in the fabric, prepared to tear the seconds from an hour, as if they might be worth more alone than part of a whole.
There’s a sense of her, an echo, in the curve of your mouth when you say certain things or see your father turn, his face so open and like your own but not enough of him in it to hide the sense of her, the echo ringing from your tongue.