Monday, December 28

The Recovery Position

MEMORIES. THIS YEAR hurts more than others. At once I am both overjoyed at its ending and sad to see it go, for it to spin around the plughole as I remain in the bath, somewhat cold & wrinkled. Two-thousand-and-fifteen. The year is three painted wooden blocks stacked on top of each other; in the mist of my mind the year is three painted wooden blocks stacked on top of each other, square but varying in length. On Christmas Eve, my train passed the building in which, until July, I used to live, and I looked upon it with such sadness! This year gathers no applause from its audience as it leaves the stage, bowing and hurried along by the falling red curtain.
And yet, just under a month ago, a strange thing happened to me, a thing cut across once and twice by memory.
O, how I have sat here and tried, in my illness, to write it down but, having failed over & over, resigned only to tell it as simply and yet as eloquently as I can manage before I collapse on to my parents’ guest-bed behind me. There is drizzle falling so that one does not see it falling, darkening the colour of the patio slabs, as though they have come to be in a deeper shade from that afforded by the clouds overhead. At this latitude, every year ends grimly. The patio slabs are always a darker shade of grey.
This little story of mine starts in better months, almost two years ago. It is not a very interesting story, but I am no in mood or position to offer you anything better; I apologise. I must have been inebriated. When one is inebriated, they are likely to forget things. I know that, personally speaking, my memory is one of the first things to abandon me when I am drunk. It can only be that I was drunk at the time, when T—r asked if she could use some of my writing for a book-making project of hers at university. T—r is a human I met some years ago, down on the south bank, before we ended up, quite innocently, in a hotel down the Docklands, and her legs folded beneath her body quite tightly so that on either side of the fold, as the land upon the river, her skin held quick and muddy. ‘Yeah, sure,’ I said. It is only my writing; I do not care much for it.
That was that. It was a long time ago.
Out of nowhere, at the end of November, T—r contacted me, an e-mail this time, when I was alone and different. She showed me some of her work. That was when I noticed it in a book she had made. I almost missed it. How did I almost miss it? The eyes skip when they are tired, but, yes, there it was all along, as it had been since she made it in 2014:
Finally we had sex, and afterwards I took my camera to her body. That is the photograph of her that I saw, that had been used; a photograph I, myself, had consciously tried to ignore and to avoid. It was her, my ex, in the recovery position, diagonally across my bed, the graphite sheets, white pillows, her beautiful hands curled over her mouth. She was so beautiful I had never seen anyone like it. That familiar scrunch of my stomach. I doubled over the computer. Don’t vomit. Recomposing myself, I took another look, simultaneously repulsed and intrigued by the publication. It is amusing, isn’t it, that the worst was yet to come. Of course, the things that stand out to me are the things that stand out to other people; and so it was that, underneath this most immortal of photographs, T—r had included a quote from my ex and recorded by myself. The quote really tore me up. Everything about when it was said to me, originally, could be recalled with the slightest of ease. The quote, in bold, italic, read—‘And please do talk to me whenever you feel bad. You should have woken me up when you were crying. We could have smoked and talked and you wouldn’t have felt shitty any more. It’s only me.’ Even typing it now I am fraught with immeasurable sadness. It is strange what one obtains and loses. It is stranger still that to recall such things does not strengthen one’s self but weakens them to the point that they believe there is nothing of value in the world any longer. It is only through great willpower that one is driven to continue. In these lonely bank holidays between Christmas and New Year’s, I do not have anything else to go to but that.
‘It’s only me.’
After I had responded to her, I got drunk and wrote a poem. I forgot about the book, the photograph and the quote.
It is only when she responded to me on Boxing Day (ignored, because she is Israeli) that I recalled the trauma she had inadvertently caused me. She reassured that things would get better, but I knew that; of course I did, otherwise I would have severed that most sensitive of cords down my back. Often the old clich├ęs are the best; open up old wounds. The word wound is itself a beautiful word, maybe not even a word but a sound, blown across the landscape of our mouths only to be construed as something animal & bare.
Two years ago may not mean much to some, but to me it is a lifetime. So much of me has come alive, so much of me has died. I am still unsure at whether I am overjoyed or sad at how quickly time seems to pass.

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