The sun shines on us as it must to the condemned
on the bright bastard day of executions. We walk steadily
although without purpose, merely moving so as not to stop,
deciding now for inner-tubes and now for ice-creams before
veering down the back streets behind the Old Mills (passing
the offices of a former lover and the building full of psychotics
that we tried to understand a year ago under this same burning sun,
a furious violent thing that one day will swallow the crust of this Earth
returning it to the silence that Life continues to slander
with every inconsequential word and howl and scratch of falling leaves
or blade of grass).
We walk in to the recycling place where the free party never happened,
the free party that had an entry fee and which later D. broke into
having drunkenly jumped a fence in transgression of every twitch of
a pretended Reason.
And in there I found a world made only of debris, a kingdom of abandoned things,
a country resplendent with cookers with broken hob rings, a pageantry exploding
with nautical maps of strange small islands, and became lost inside those canyons
of a mocked ancient tenor that smelled of yellowing paper and tables, chairs
and all the collected artefacts that prove that Man has climbed out
from his Primordiality. A graveyard of dead things that cling viciously to life.
How arrogant to think the clockwork things could never dream.
Don’t they also, moment to moment, struggle against the universe’s decomposition,
its inevitable and seductive entropic decaying? Suddenly all I can see is a prison-ship
dropped anchor in a concrete sea. I want to liberate all these dishwashers,
all these exercise bikes; I want to declare the Rights of Complex and Simple Things.
But we leave that place (I have bought a novel and D. a monitor). We walk back the way we came.
The sun is still benign- pre-cancerous, only hinting coquettishly at its waiting malignancy.
We read and eat in it’s heat, a shadow of the cold to come that nevertheless radiates
majesty and convinces us- all everyone else in that beer garden- that Life is an inevitability,
that it stands firm and unquestionable.
At the hight of summer the profoundest precariousness recedes
just as in a lover’s bed vulnerabilities find themselves as immaculate glories.
Death can’t live in these places, we whisper.
And I pass the rest of the afternoon lying in bed with L. We fuck with violence
and tenderness. And exhausted we hold each other. We smoke our cigarettes.
Say it simply. We let our eyes believe they are only for looking at each other,
we pass beyond day and night. She holds me inside her after I have come. I don’t want
to move. I have turned to a vibrantly living stone, a monument to every love that
has passed through the world dreaming of its own immortality.
And in this bed all of my vulnerabilities find themselves as immaculate glories,
And we dispense with the vulgarity of language’s shaky constructions.
We communicate by touch and taste and sweating, our pores radiating poetry, spinning
delicate webs across the surface of one another. I kiss her mouth hard, and I find
it impossible to believe in dying.
My body sings by aching, teaching me that its limits haven’t ever really been reached.
The Earth is turning away from the sun now, and in the park the sunbathers have put on their
sweaters, the children head for home. I feel the life of everything around me.
I almost envy the ecstatic visions of manias, the certainties of psychoses. But this gentle
lull, this quiet moment before the falling of some axe where things are as they appear,
in this recesses of the world’s terrible agony: I am proud and happy that I am part of this,
that I am part of this Life, that all this Living will disappear too, and that,
For a brief time, there were these things, that I was one thing among the others,
deserving and desiring no more than is reserved for the smallest among them. As I close,
I am getting ready to see her again, her body and her face…and it strikes me like
a heart attack that that is enough.
I am living and I am dying, and it doesn’t matter too much, and it won’t last long,
and I am smiling, unable to do anything else in the early evening light of Spring.
I read the book she has lent to me; Conditions of Love: the philosophy of intimacy. Violin and acoustic guitar slowly rise from the damp earth of silence. I am thinking of today and of tomorrow. My mind wants me to think about the months to come and to the time provisionally scheduled for her taking leave of this small, modest city. I don’t want to think about these things. I find myself for the first time in a long time unwilling to confront the impermanence of things. Everything is temporary, for how long have I been fond of saying this? And now it isn’t that I want our time in that same damp earth, broken only by the sounds of flesh and minds extending out to one another and by the immediate laughter and demands of her child, to be eternal or endless. Simply, I can’t conceive of such an ending. I find myself refusing to believe in such an ending.
I remember crouching in her garden alone in the night, composing a poem to the stars about their distance and their destiny, speculating on how many might already be dead. I remember telling myself to keep hold of the line: we’d be miracles were we not accidents. I betray these thoughts when, inevitably, images of her are aroused in my imagination; when suddenly everything appears right and just and full with necessity. What new illusions am I happily cultivating? What new joys might they pierce through the arid parts of this indifferent earth?
Here I am. This vanishing singularity. A precarious and fragile system. The meaning of intimacy: showing to the other one’s fragility, one’s catastrophe, the wounds of one’s tiny history and the offering of these wounds as the wellspring from which some beautiful music might emerge. To be a passionate but unhurried duet in a world of mournful solos and the terrifying grandiosity of symphonies. The music of the two instruments submerged in each other, trying to find a rhythm and a pitch. And I imagine her dancing to that melody, any dissonance offering the chance for an innovation in how we might move together.
I don’t love this woman, let’s not get carried away. Our duet is young in its composition. But what dance might it generate? We met one night by accident, under conditions dictated by separate (if not finally separable) trajectories. The conditions of love? I don’t know… but the conditions of its possibility?
Finished typing, I return to the book. It’s covers are smooth and cold in my hands. I will read for a few more hours. I will sleep and dream and rise and go to university where I will talk and learn and teach and…I will be waiting for the hour when she sends me that text: F. is asleep, you can come to my place whenever you want.
And she will show me her fragility.We will show
Cold of night.
I sit at my desk. I am listening to music: right now ‘The Leanover’ by Life Without Buildings lolls with that stuttering vocal breaking in and out of melody, in and out of sense. My head is empty of concerns or miseries. I have a vaguely pleasant sense of hunger. Down in the car park outside my bedroom window a kid is hitting a ball off the walls with his hockey stick; a pointless metronomy, a soothing repetition. The only thoughts I have lean in to tomorrow. Cinema and drinks. And later, in an excited hue, we will undress once more. My every moment is now anticipation. I let this consciousness drift.
We meet in town. She is reading the book I left in her house and looks engrossed, her glasses reflecting the gentle dull grey of the clouded sky outside. She looks beautiful there. I approach. Video art: the architecture of faces as enmeshed in the architecture of the megopolis, the non-place that spans the permeability of the blurring zones- airports, hotels, identical corridors connecting identical rooms. We’re sitting on the floor. She is as engrossed as I was a moment before I broke away to steal a look at her body arching back, her hands pressing into a black carpet behind her in keeping her upright. She is beautiful. And wandering around photographs of Pripyat, a place I have longed to see in reality, a non-place I have written about as desolate but flooded with faith (is it so easy to confuse faith and radiation?). She is beautiful. I hold her in the dark of the viewing room. Then coffee and talking about art. Then back to mine and all bodies contorting and eyes pulling one into the other and the moans and wet sounds of pleasure- the noises that form the truest communication. And sitting on the bed she tells me ‘I really like you’; and sitting on the bed I tell her ‘I really like you’. She has been gone for 20 minutes give or take but tonight I will see her again. The smell of her lingers in the room. I inhale deeply.
she’s covered in bruises
and you let her cry in your arms
in the square outside the townhall
the steps of the fountain giving a cold seat.
he’s done it again and next time
maybe it’ll be the last time.
you let her cry and smoke her cigarettes.
life is a stumbling,
a trying not to come apart.
and somehow in the heat of this you’re
taking away the pills and the rope
and urging her to keep on living,
at least for tonight. at least for tomorrow.
this urge to save the other,
this coalition against death, it’s all we are
and its all we have,
even in the evidence of our own monstrosity.