I know it is coming, and I think about it almost every day. The door closing, the life ending. The peace to know that I cannot change a thing and the acceptance to say that I have had a good life: I have lived and I have loved, and in turn I have been loved and lived my life as best I could with others, with my family and friends. A door is closing, but I am thankful it was ever open at all.
Those words stare out at me like a challenge, needling my sides as I sit down and put my fingers to the keyboard, ready to type but nothing ever seems to happen. They just hover for a short while before I retract them and think about putting the kettle on for another black coffee to help stimulate the mind.
It’s morning, perhaps it is too early, maybe I should go back to bed and have a nap? Dreams are a great place for ideas to collide after all. The afternoon is a much better time to write, perhaps even the early evening?
These thoughts twirl around my head as I set up the rest of my day with the routine tasks of living. Soon I find I have no time to sit and write, life is falling into place and I do have to work for a living and help with the upkeep of my young family. The joys of feeding toddlers and playing imaginary games, the book can wait can’t it, if I just take this quick break to think I’m a fish ready to nibble her little feet? To see that laugh and that smile lights me up like nothing else could or can, even the thought of being a published author is pushed to the back of my mind.
Here then is my kingdom of heaven. Let me turn off the television and turn down the radio, the news cannot intrude into paradise today. We are alone in our tight family unit and we are happy here.
The book niggles at me during the night, when I am lying down trying to both sleep and to escape. Instead the demon rises up in the form of a thousand empty pages, all flickering to the bitter empty end.
My bank account could do with the advance that I’d surely get, my name too could do with the prestige. I could do with the look of pride and honour that would radiate from the faces of those that I love most.
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Those words haunt me so.
I wanted to love you
but you made it hard,
Turned away my cheek
and instead raised the card
That declared your hostilities
and declared a war,
It was then I knew
that I deserved so much more
I wanted to love you
so you made it hard,
I wanted to know you
but you made it hard
I wonder where you are
wonder who you became,
I wanted to love you,
but you made it hard. . .
The ties that bind the population to the land can seem inhuman: mechanical structures that can stretch across the landscape, not embracing the natural features in any meaningful way but instead perch delicately on top or silently underneath. The hidden foundations, tunnels, and pipes that anchor these structures are violently forced and rendered into and through the land, yet here is where the beating economic heart sits, almost contentedly by the sea.
Only we have learnt from the lessons of the past few centuries and slowly our gaze is turning to how we can instead ally industry with nature, working with it instead of against it. Is it too late? Only time will provide us with that answer. . .
It is a Sunday afternoon and Father John Misty states that he is in ‘the business of living’ to mournful tones. I can’t help but agree with him – then again here I am, sat staring at the screen and trying to ignore the world outside.
I sit and I am barely speaking to anyone, just thinking about the current state of my country, the continent it is a part of and the fool that sits in the house across the water. How did it get to this?
Christmas cheer has never seemed so far away. When I think about the trees that are burning, the refugees that are drowning, the continents dividing and the politicians scheming, when did it all come down to this? Hasn’t it always been the way?
We fall into disrepair by inaction and we are actively doing that now.
She has an Anglo-Saxon sternness. She could be 20 or 40 years of age, her religious conviction writ large in her plain facial features. She loves warmly but disciplines firmly, an island of austerity in a world of plenty.
The state has abandoned you, the forests are on fire. Your material possessions will not give you comfort nor rescue you. Where are you representatives now?
The Nationalists are here, the Centrists want your vote. You are of the wrong skin colour, the wrong heritage. Vote for us or your body will line the unmarked graves that we have prepared.
Your voice has been silenced, the villages are burning and will never be re-built. The sun does not forgive, your body will dry out in the desert. The oceans are acidifying, the animals are dying.
They are perverts, scum, ignore them and vote for us! Watch as the poor burn in their vertical prisons. Watch as the taxes rise and the services are cut. Watch as the rich profit from the misery of the poor, and the ill die in corridors.
Become one of us! Rip your heart from your chest, castigate all that you love, throw away any semblance of charity.
Join us, become us. Give up any hope of hope itself.
A repost of one of my favourite photographs that I’ve taken, probably from a few years ago now.
I have been shooting incorrectly for the majority of the time; it took me just one trip with the well-informed to tell me that. I should have known, I shouldn’t have shot from the hip, wasting film and time combined. Honestly, I have learnt my lesson, just hand me that last roll of black and white film and I’ll get your shot, the one that we both dream of on long hazy afternoons – the body laying silently, awaiting a brief exposure with your eyes focused on mine, the twin cradles of hips and shoulders turned towards me and only to me. As if in a dream the thin rivulets of your flesh cascade gently against the cold leather couch.
On developing I can see the flames licking the border of the shot, the deep blacks and greys helping to create shadow against the brilliant white of immovability. The mistaken shot turns into something more, an image captured that I had not originally cared to note.
Blue is the colour of my dreams, the inside and the outside worlds tilting but never quite fully falling over. The flutter of the leaves in the wind and the beauty of the sky’s colours urged me to look up, to embrace the vast emptiness of existence. No comfort was found, history meaning nothing to the future, but no comfort was needed. It wasn’t that life is on a constant knife-edge of imbalance, when is it not?, but the fact that I could embrace the now, the cold comfort of the wind and the cawing of the birds as my own. Distinctly my own, this moment and nothing more. That nothing, or rather no moment, truly mattered or matters in the great cosmic life course of universal matter. We were born and we will die, from whence we began we will return.
I love you and I need you, I wish that I could see you. I’m travelling down this corridor alone, strapped to this trolley with doctors by my side pushing through door after door. I can see the light shining but I’m not sure if it’s for me or if it’s for everyone around me. I cry out, not pain not in horror, I cry out in confusion. I need you and I want you, to be by my side again. Memories flood my frazzled mind, a skeletal hand clasps my own and tells me it will be alright, it will be okay. I can help but feel that this is a denial, that my body is failing even as I flail in the half-light of an under-funded hospital, staffed by sleep walking staff with the warmest of hearts.
I need you and I want you, I can hear voices in the corridor, not my own or those around me but others, crying out in equal pain or in anger at the wait. Where are my sons, where are my daughters? I wanted to say to grow up in peace, to love your family, friends and neighbours as one, to move on or to leave if you need to. We understand, we want you to be happy, we need you to be with us. I love and I need you, and I wish that I could see you.
The final corridor, my body is checked in. Checked once that I am who I say I am, that the arrows painted on my limbs are correct and that my brain is related to my body and my body is related to my name. I say I am who I am and they take it on board, and I’m made to wait at Heaven’s Gate. Two blonde angels guide me, make me comfortable on the slip green sheets which matches their sleek outfits. Only bras and knickers must be under their gowns I think, wondering who they share their bed and younger, supplier bodies with at night. My own is broken, battered and torn. A mess of surgical scars, shortened limbs but above average, well we won’t go into that but it is according to a litany of my previous lovers.
I want you and I need you, I wish that I could see you. I laugh, laugh at the futility of it all. The drugs, I yearn for the warmth of the morphine, of the wicked sleeping potion to crawl up into my veins and up into my arm and to flood the chest cavity and consciousness itself. I yearn to sleep with no dreams, where the minute that passes is not a minute but a moment between awake and awake. My eyes linger on one of the angels, filling in the paperwork in the corner of the room, haloed by broken bodies on stripped back beds.
I need you and I want you, I wish that I could see you. I’m moving, I’m moving, but I’m not moving, there are no words for this. Through the first set of doors I am pushed, name confirmed once more. Am I aware of what is going to happen to me and why it is happening? Yes, yes I scream still dreaming of the green robed angels in the theatre waiting room. Just do it, yes the heart always beats fast. I need you and I want you, but I just can’t seem to see you. I stare at the anaethetist’s eyes as the plunger is gently but firmly pressed down, a milky white liquid seeps into my own bloodstream diluting reality.
I needed you and I wanted you, but I just can’t seem to have seen you. I wake as if I have been asleep for years. I crave water, yearn to drink a thousand litres of the freshest water available. I want to drown in crystalline lakes and to never wake. A tube has been down my throat, a mainline into the neck is still present. I wish that I could have seen you, I’m sorry to have left you. I close my eyes again.
How could I possibly tell her that I had thought we had a future together when these thoughts alone were just the remanent of fragmented dreams, and that those dreams were recalled by the half light ecstasy of sexual mores that only I could gain personal satisfaction in? No, these feelings and lust-filled thoughts were just that. They were simply a morning temptation before the creeping light of dawn awoke me fully to the realities of the day ahead. I held the phone in my right hand, her number displayed on the screen with a text half-finished underneath. I reread the message and cringed in shame, the liquid warm against my belly whilst I drew deep breaths. Deleted. For the betterment of us both.
Besides I had double English to attend and I still needed to scrub the sleep from my eyes, shower and dress. The walk to the college alone would take twenty minutes and I had an hour at the most to get ready, prepare for the class and to arrive on time. Timekeeping was never a strong point for me, the lack of punctuality ran in the family and infuriated my mother continually throughout her children’s adolescence. My eldest brother, for I was one of four and the second youngest of our parent’s brood, would drive my mother crazy by getting up late, sometimes comically late and especially so if we had to be somewhere on time. This would then cascade a chain of fury from my mother to my father, who got annoyed on her behalf before the fury finally found us, his younger brothers. Once we were out of the house however we were fine and I think Dad sensed this when he saw the frustration spreading and urged us out as fast as was humanely possible.
The house was empty this morning though so I could blast the music, keep the bedroom door open and move about freely as naked as the day my poor mother had pushed me out. I loved it – the feeling of an empty house where my favourite music reverberated from wall to wall; where I could eat quickly before I jumped into the shower, laughing as I did so as the water followed and flowed over the contours of my limbs and ran down my thighs. They were where the thick surgical scars outlined the orthopaedic surgeon’s fixation. I was proud of these scars, they were my personal tattoos of a specific time and place, my memories of pain and pleasure entwined to produce a better me (or so the hope went).
The first lesson passed without incidence, we learnt of the black ram tupping the white ewe and the lecturer expounded on what this meant for the play, for the deft characterisation and turn of phrase the author was so well-known for. I wondered of his contemporaries, of his hopes and dreams. I wondered what became of his loves and hungers, what his reaction would be if he knew that his plays would be enacted out four centuries hence whilst his fellow playwrights would lie largely forgotten in the lands that birthed them. But still, I had the break to look forward to where I would see her and think ashamedly back to my morning scene. I wanted to hold her hair in my hands and look deep into the blues of her eyes. This was a fantasy, the girl who I would later call my partner had brown eyes and curly hair, she wasn’t the person who I had dreamt of whilst I had lain in bed, regretting the passing of the minutes that I was powerless to stop.
This was the contract, signed by us both. Remaining friends but no more, the blushes of a late teenage crush hidden by a mop of hair. Instead I put aside my fantasy of my cheek against hers, my lips kissing hers, my body entwined with hers, and put our friendship on a higher plane. There was no underlying hidden moral heroism driving this, it was purely the shame of not trying and never asking for her hand. The joy of seeing her and sharing stories over drinks replaced this erotic dream of mine, one that I had subconsciously harboured since school and let blossom fully at college. Instead I focused on the give and take of friendship. The unsaid declaration of the fact that she and I were always willing to be there for one another, at the end of a text, a phone call or in person, that it remained hanging in the air never needing to be vocalised.
Taken by the author with a Pentax S1a camera using Lomography Lady Grey film. If reproduced elsewhere please credit as appropriate.