There is a collective misguided assumption, that we know the words. Singing like rusted taps, gargling and spluttering our way to the chorus where enthusiasm trumps experience, and pipes swell and burst so all is noise and furious revelry. The wave of it crests breaks, washes us along to the next line. As real as the misting of our breaths as we sing. The cold is not felt in the thick of it.
Someone says panic attack, adrenaline spike, low, calm, and confident, laying a diagnosis out like a challenge, while I sit here, stumped, all root and no branch to climb up, to escape by, not a spike but a stake pinning me in this place.
I gathered the stones myself, stacked them before you like a temple offering, my skin the sacrifice as I bared it inch by inch and asked for a blessing you denied me until the pile was fragments and my flesh peppered with your approval.
My sister and I are taking about family and afterwards I write about Wonderland. The way in which it frightened me as a child when Alice falls, and fall, and falls, and falls, and all the while the world is whirling upwards, downwards, outwards in patterns whorled inside each other like carnivorous flowers, too consumed with consuming each other to notice she is screaming. Someone asks me if I’m mad, without asking that specifically, because you know, that would be unkind. I tell her I’m not delusional. Reassure her, don’t mention again the shadows I keep seeing out of the corners of my eyes, my white rabbits flitting out of sight each time I turn. Put it down to an over active imagination. Tell myself the same. Spring plays peek-a-boo, the white rabbit’s ears twitch twice, I am clinging on.
When you arrived as the snowdrops melted, pressed cherry blossom to my breast, told me love is like a flower in bloom, already closer to an end than the start. Pressed cherry blossom to my breast, found thorns that left their marks, already closer to an end than the start when sorrow grew from these seeds. Found thorns that left their marks, taught me how to cut out dead wood, when sorrow grew from these seeds pruning became vital to overall survival. Taught me how to cut out dead wood, told me love is like a flower in bloom, pruning became vital to overall survival when you arrived as the snowdrops melted.
So I blamed you, because it was easy, sweeter on the tongue. Didn’t have the bite of admitting I could have been wrong. I’ve just been writing up three longish poems so I felt something short and sweet was in order tonight.
Instead of speaking she breathes across the skin of her coffee. Whispers, the words unwanted to an empty chair across and closes her eyes, sips her drink, when nothing is said in return and blots a last goodbye on a napkin from the counter.
One sip to poison a prince, his teeth sunk into forbidden fruit, while one-true-love stands waiting, patient, the perfect good girl all fairy-tales and smiles, alone. Drinks her own potion, steps free of skin crafted from paperbound volumes brittle with age. Breathes. Finally. Screams.
Little girls are taught that boys being boys, will torment to show their love. Big girls will claim that love makes up for bruises, broken bones and split lips. I am lucky not to have known that sort of that love. I’ve never been struck by someone claiming their heart beats for me while echoing the beating with their fists. When it happens to a man they are reduced to the weaker sex, because it’s bad enough when a woman doesn’t have the balls to leave. Without experiencing the same thing I can’t say for certain, but I’ve carried enough fear with me to understand what it is to cling to the things we know. Privileged, is a tricky word to stick when most of us hide the things dragging us down.
Someone once told me life is like driving with one headlight busted. You can’t see much but you can see enough to stay on the road. It sounded too close to destiny wrapped up as a given for those with cars or perhaps even torchlight to stumble on by. In the moment before the train do you ever wonder… a side effect of an anxious mind designed to keep you from harm by popping ideas in your head with enough force to flinch. But it’s all unreal until enough breath is breathed to put steel into the words the ideas that dance like paper on a line in our heads. New cars have automatic lights. They come on when night falls without the need of human intervention. My car is still old, growing older, it comes with a choice to make.