Friday 22 September 2023

morning headache

Tight knot at the back of my neck, two tight knots, from muscular nots lining either side of my spine, filling my head with sleep, creeping into the back of my eyeballs, sending feelers of red into capillaries, circling the iris and dancing up the corona of gold and back into the brain again, through the thick pink worms of it, lining them, making them constrict, holding back the blood, sucking out the oxygen, demanding sympathy and skeptical permissions to stop, go home, lie down, take it easy. Write yourself in history, write yourself on history, lean on something, someone, lean harder, lean sideways, lean sideways, look askance, pick the leanest piece of meat and eat it for pudding. Mix flour and dates and call it a cake, mother. Mix berries and oats and feed them to a crowd. Ask for no permission, ask for no elision or ellipsis, do not judge when you overeat or overcook, don’t cry when you spill your cup of lemon water. Let the ritual take on a life of its own, let it cascade around you. Write x’s as if you were still in algebra, look down over your shoulder as if it were not the reason for your aching head. When we sat in Chester, down a set of stairs and on a table to the left, we ordered cocktails and nachos and olives and breads. We ate cheeses and olive oils. We waited a long time for our dinner and we had already missed our train. I clean my nose for ten minutes twice a day and use it as an excuse to look at my own face. Do you know how much your face changes for me, depending on the length of your facial hair? It is strange to think that the amount you love someone can be predicated on the length of their beard. If hair grows on after death, imagine the love I will hold, the flame I will shelter, the bone I will hide for your festering corpse, your skeletal frame, your skull still clinging to its long black fringe. We walked the same path every day with the smell of hops in our hair. You told me it was sugar. They told me to buy gummy bears for my hair. They told me not to let gimmicks slip into my writing; I am not that kind of girl. She said that she wasn’t a girl at all and that I should call her they. I wished that I could go away and come back as a mouse or an orchid. As a little ant on the planes of astroturf. As an old book in the bowels of the city. As a cornice in the reading room. A corona. Ovule. Minuet. Pirouette. Lanyard. A piece of paper, a note from the doctor, an unworn swimming costume, an old towel, a toenail in my jacket pocket, a piece of sellotape pressed against my arm. When I read that, I remember, she was as slippery but solid as her prose. I want to pour from the sink and slip down the plughole. I want to be salted and earthed. Make love to the soil. Make me into coffee and boil me. Eat me for pudding. Make me lean. I will sing out this pain. I will scream. I will be a child again. I will look at you over my shoulder and feel something slip. I will rock with the washing machine as it creaks on its plinth. I will drink from a straw that harnesses me and makes me again, builds me up from the bacteria that lives inside my lower lip. I will be born again as a sweetener. I will kill villains on television. I will murder you when you bash your spoon against the lip of the pan. I will tell you I love you and we will vow to live forever. You will give everything to me and I will consider giving it back. We will talk about the numbers thirty, forty, and fifty. Water will come out hot and go in cold. Blood will go round hot. Air will come out hot. Feet will be cold and then hot. I will long to be a feather in another person’s duvet. Someone will start hammering and I will wonder why someone would do that, surely everyone knows I am ill. I will think of winter, coming. I will imagine your bare feet on gritty carpet. I will be a droplet falling from the shower. I will feel pain. I will be pain. I will ask myself for permission to lie down. It may or may not be granted.


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