Monday, November 23, 2009
i wonder how it is that you are, out there between dignitaries, dissertations and dilemmas, somewhere between the sun and the sky.
it has been months since you wrote, and my fingers find that they miss your syllables as much as your skin. do they treat you well, where you are? how's the weather? are you happy?
i wonder about your happiness, in idle moments, between cigarettes, cups of chai, and stories.
then again, i don't suppose i get to ask these questions. it must have been a terrible wrong. was it in geneva?
france. no, it was france. you keep reminding me . . geneva was where we made love by the lake, and it was in france that i broke.
these details escape me . . you were always so good at keeping me together.
i find that i think of you often, even now, years later - waiting for trains, watching lovers by the green, in the smell of crisp mornings, in between nightmares. you'd think my skin would have grown accustomed to your absence by now - it has, of course, been so many years since we touched. somehow, each year rolls by, and i keep seeing you . . your fingers handing me change at the drugstore, in a busker's smile, in a stranger's lips. i wonder why it is that you haven't left, yet . . then again, i wonder what it is that i'd do, if i stopped seeing you, even if it sometimes leaves me empty, in the morning.
i saw a woman die, last night. her lips were flecked with blood, and a man in a shirt stained scarlet kept thumping at where her heart used to beat. i saw her head turn, as the life drained out of her. little droplets of blood fell from her lips, as she tried to squeeze one last breath out of this life. he was crying, by then, and she was staring straight into my eyes.
and then she was gone.
i woke up screaming, again, missing your smell.
i don't suppose that these letters, from your past, do you any good. then again, i can't see what harm they could do, either. you are elsewhere, somewhere, and i don't think you'll hold it against me to try and rid myself of blood-soaked nightmares, of death, and of this terrible fiction that becomes my reality.
hospitals are terrible places to say goodbye. that, i suppose, is also why i keep writing.
- death is the road to awe -
Monday, November 16, 2009
there was a time when i wanted to die in a lake in geneva, just you, i and the rain, softly on our skin, somewhere by the lake.
do you remember geneva? it was late in the summer, when we went. the air was turning crisp, and you could smell autumn, waiting in the leaves.
you looked beautiful, in the afternoon by the lake; right after we made love, and just before we fought. that is how i will always remember you.
i just wanted to know if you remembered geneva.
you called me to a cafe, and told me to come away with you. i was - we were - younger then, of course. i was enraptured by your fingers, and your fiction. you told me to come closer, as if you were going to tell me a secret. just as i leaned in to your ear, awaiting a whisper, you kissed me.
that is how i will always remember you.
the lake was in france, darling. we went to geneva in the spring; you spent three days locked in the room, smoking incessantly, staring moodily out the window and occasionally writing something, which you refused to show me.
- my manic and i -
Sunday, October 18, 2009
she is everything familiar, wrapped around my eyes so that i do not know when i am. whether this is all happening here, now, or whether i am merely reliving a life.
did we love each other, el and i? i seem to remember something about warmth, and always; but then i turn the corner, and the streets are altogether unfamiliar. no, i had not been there before . . . it must have been some other park, another face, some other street, a different market altogether.
every moment of confusion, of course, loosens the hold of her, el's, memories on me, and suddenly it seems as if it may well have been fiction after all. and yet i wonder, if there was a life, once, and i think that i would not have minded it, so.
- if you see her, say hello -
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
'i'll be late,' on the front door.
'your mother needs you,' in between pages.
'don't leave without breakfast,' by the bedside.
ultimately, it was a sort of conversation, between absences and miles.
he remembered the first time he left her at the airport. as they kissed in the car, he felt his skin burn for her; and then, briefly, relief.
on the way home, that early morning, he had stopped by a roadside stall, to pick up some cigarettes. he felt vaguely guilty, as he saw the edge glow orange while the trees passed by.
she hated the smoke. so, for that matter, did he.
as the door clicked shut, he felt the dust on his fingertips. and as the warm water flowed onto his skin, his hands, his hair, he caught a glimpse of the mirror.
'miss me,' it said, in faint outlines, on the fogged glass.
he was glad when she returned. he didn't like to be left alone with himself, for too long.
somewhere, behind the last bag of sugar in the kitchen, is a piece of yellowing, now parched, notebook paper.
'i will leave you,' it says.
- write to me -
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
she fell easily into his silences, and he enveloped her, intensely; and things were good, for a while, as such things are.
she once told him that he wrote like he made love. he only nodded his head slowly, flicked the end of his cigarette, and told her she was wrong. he made love like he wrote.
it was the dancing, in the end, that always got them into trouble, of course.
still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he turned to her one morning, and asked why.
she arched her eyebrows, in that particular way of hers, meaning etched in every crease, and asked him what on earth he was talking about.
why, he repeated. why us, why now? why like this?
why anything, she asked, shrugging her shoulders ever so slightly.
i haven't written anything, he said, suddenly. not since i first touched you. why.
should i know?
well, i don't know, he said, slipping another cigarette out. empty, now, almost. what i do know is- my silences refuse to turn back into sentences.
when there was anguish, there were always her arms, wrapped around him.
i don't know, baba, she said, abandoning her two-step. i don't know where your syllables are hiding.
and he may have believed her, if they hadn't circled around and around each other, so often. the same old ground, the same old fears.
you act, he said.
you act, and i'm supposed to write. but all we do . . . all we do is dance.
- its so erotic when your makeup runs -
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
he didn't like the cool air, in these moods. sometimes she thought he wanted to swallow the world, to consume it so that there could be none left.
he liked the heat his body generated, it's temperature rising rhythmically as he circled his room once, twice, a hundred times.
it is a sort of life, he said, out loud, to no-one, recalling Greene, and then Fanon, Maugham and Heller, Chesterton and Irving, Updike and Plath.
There were times when the words drowned him. they were too much.
- the scent of his sweat -
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
more and more often, these days, she found herself haunting the streets and paths around her home, late at night, searching, perhaps, for the answers to her compulsions.
she didn't know if it was his violence which drove her away, or his great love for her. they were, ultimately, the same thing. but her appetite for violence had waned, over the years, and now she had, more frequently, only silence for his words.
there is no feeling more startlingly empty than not hate, nor loneliness, but indifference. she had become, quite suddenly it appeared to her (though she knew, of course, that it had taken years of careful progress) irrelevant. she lived on the edges of her children's existences, patiently tidying the borders of their lives.
and, somehow, after walking for miles around the twisting alleys and safe streets of her organised, neat, little housing colony, she always found herself at the steps of her own driveway. and always with the same, inexplicable, question.
'what if,' he had whispered into her ear.
he had told her so many stories, once, and she, being young and fond of the violence inherent in the telling, had loved him. and they had made love, in the moonlight, madly, her skin being pushed into the cold, red earth, her fingers clutching at the night as he made her scream.
she still remembered feeling the cold air on his warm skin, the taste of his syllables as she carressed them out of his mouth and into her own. the-
and, every night, she took that question, and placed it, neatly, in the back of her mind, for another night. for a night when she felt, perhaps, a little stronger.
- auntie em's story -
Friday, July 31, 2009
'good god,' mother said, gathering the folds of her nightie around her, defensively, as she opened her door. 'is she at it again?'
uncle q burst out of his bedroom, as if propelled by the weight of his own paranoia. 'who is it?' he asked, breathless. 'what's happened?'
baba, long gone, may well have woken up, too.
'it's k,' i said. 'she won't want you all inside. please, let me talk to her.'
'are you sure?' said uncle q, never quite sure of words.
mother had already shut her own door, with a not altogether quiet slam.
i opened her door, gently, and asked if i could enter. i only saw her shadow move, but entered anyway. even terror has patterns.
'kya huwa, jaan,' i said, touching a shadow's hand in the darkness.
she just rocked, back, and forth.
'arey baba,' i whispered, careful not to jar the cobwebs of her dreams from her eyes.
'what makes you scream so,' i didn't say.
in hindsight, that was the night the summer really ended. ever after, she accused me of hiding behind fiction. i told her she only really believed in fiction.
'you've got to get out of here,' she said, as i left the room, watching the sunlight stream in.
- keep me in your heart for a while -
Thursday, July 23, 2009
there was nothing, of course, to be done about that now.
ali, his youngest, came trotting out to him, in the garden. they knew they weren't supposed to disturb their father when he was sitting out, in the evenings, having his cup of tea. this did not, however, stop them.
'tell me a story, baba,' said the little one, plaintively.
that was the problem, in the end. they always wanted a story.
'not today,' he said, gently. 'go play with your brother.'
'but that's what you said yesterday,' little ali said, suddenly a keen keeper of records. 'and the day before . .', he added, reproachfully.
'what if i don't have a story to tell you today?' he asked, hoping for a reprieve.
that did it. suddenly, ali went from smiling expectantly, to wide-eyed grimace #34, an expression which required particular muscular dexterity, and was almost always a precursor to tears.
so he told him a story, one so filled with colour, so twisting and intricate that, while it completely captured little ali, also distracted him from the fact that it meant nothing at all.
and, so satisfied, little ali trotted back to the house, to play with his brother. not before, of course, he had given his father's leg an adoring hug.
'tell your mother i'll be a little while longer,' he called out after his son, as the front door clicked closed.
what he needed, he realised, more than anything, was to be someplace a little colder.
- someplace a little colder -
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
breathing the same old air, seeing the same old deal. got to get out to the sea, baby, he said, got to get out to where I can breathe.
somewhere colder, this time. i've got to get out of this city, to somewhere where the shadows aren't quite so dark, the silences not so deep.
got to leave this city, this city doesn't get me. got to go somewhere I can see.
in the shadow of a palace, you once whispered quietly, many years ago, that you'd wait for me. I didn't understand then, quite what you meant. we were younger, of course, and we loved. god, we loved.
somewhere darker, this time, where the chill gets into your bones. somewhere quieter, where the shadows stop speaking. somewhere far away, where your hands stop enveloping mine, in every silent moment, where i can finally bring myself to speak, again.
i love you, he said, so softly that it was only the shadows that heard.
departures always came so much more naturally. staying, ultimately, was always the problem.
- get miles -
Friday, July 10, 2009
i searched for you, that night, in the darkness, amongst the yellow-orange clouds that enveloped this city, our city, but you had flown by then (i wasn't to know till later; till it was, perhaps, much too late). so many miles, we said - just so many words.
and now, there is only silence. lamplight and silence, silence and lamplight, just as there was before (everything seems so much longer ago). and somewhere between that lamplight, the darkness, and the clouds that hang lowest in an impossibly bright night sky, you'll find someone searching, desperately, for something that he thought he lost, once. fingers clawing at the dirt, eyes burning through the deep, deep darkness, palms sweating and legs giving way.
what would zevon do, he found himself asking no-one in particular.
i could call her tonight, he thought.
- humour me -