[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
I have begun to lose little pieces of myself in odd places. I left the part of me that finds music beautiful on the bus yesterday, while I stared at a boy who sang like a nightingale, unaware that the entire bus could hear him. I left my sight in the gutter three days ago, when I saw the moon at three in the afternoon, too early, too soon, and I looked away. I left my wrists at a cafe this morning, when I tried to write and I had no words left inside my birdcage chest. I left my heart in the Pacific just then, because I fall in love too quickly and too easily, and it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. Soon I will lose all of me, and I will float through my open window and become a part of the ancient oak that croons outside at night. I will watch the world turn.
You are silk brassiere beneath
frail fingertips. You are lavender oil
rising in curling steam. You are winter chill
when I am too exhausted to fall asleep.
You are the stars and the moon and the night,
and you are grey rainclouds obscuring light.
I will undress slowly while moonlight streams
through cracked & crumbling blinds,
the windowpane collecting dust,
while lace and velvet underthings
cascade to the floor. These clothes
were so very expensive, I did not eat
for three days. Still, they cost less
than loving you did. For I remember
the way you would rip my flesh from
my ivory skeleton, throw my muscles
and tendons to the ground while you fed
on my still beating heart. You are silk
brassiere beneath frail fingertips,
while the ancient oak creaks outside
my cracking window.)
There is a kitchen cupboard that nobody in my family opens. I grew up being told not to touch it, to leave it be.
I used to think my grandmother’s china teacups rested there, and that was why I was told as a young girl not to touch even the mahogany handles. Grandmother had died of a stroke very suddenly, in her lonely bed in South Africa. Her husband had been sleeping two doors down, with the underpaid and abused maid clutched under his sweaty oldman arm. Mother had flown with me and my teddybear the eighteen hours it took for us to reach her old home of Johannesburg. I couldn’t quite pronounce it, so she said it was okay to call it ‘Joburg’. I liked that better. It made me feel a little more familiar with this strange city, where mansions loomed like the ones in old films, but thin women with thick lips shuffled through garbage. My mother did not cry at the funeral. I stood there silent dressed in a little black dress, the hem just brushing my knees. It was itchy and made of wool. My grandfather told the maid to hand his daughter the china tea cups. Once we had gotten the case (wrapped in bubblewrap, which I wanted to play with but Mother swatted my hand away) we drove in silence to the airport. We were in ‘Joburg’ for thirteen hours. I thought she had stowed the china away in the secret kitchen cupboard, but then, Christmas two years ago, my mother served coffee in the delicate teacups. They were dusty, and I choked a little when I drank.
I wondered if my father’s port and brandy and gin and other names that I couldn’t remember lived there. I could hear him mumble under his breath when he thought I’d gone to bed, telling himself and the silent wallpaper what he would be drinking. I would press my childface to the bannister railings, looking down the creaky old stairs, watching my mother drink champagne and dance to Sinatra. The dusty port bottles lived beneath the old unused half-filled bookcase we owned. My father would down glass after glass of whiskey until he took my mother by the waist and pressed his drunken lips to hers, a slobbering mess. She would giggle and tell him not tonight, not tonight. She said ‘not tonight’ every night. Even as a little girl, I knew that the growing look of discontentment on my father’s heavy brow was not a good thing. I would scuttle off to bed as if it were me who said the wrong thing, and not my tipsy mother.
One night, my parents went out to eat dinner and try to learn who the person they slept next to every night was. The babysitter they had hired gave me a twenty and was picked up by a man with greasy hair and an unsettling smirk. The house was silent, and I was alone at the tender age of eight. The kitchen held sway, but the darkest corner, the most quiet corner, was the kitchen cupboard that I was told never to open. Never ever. My curious fingers itched. I sighed, and gave in to the little girl who wanted to learn the insides of things, the little girl who lived inside me still, the little girl that my parents wished would float away on August wind. I opened the cupboard. I opened the cupboard. I opened the cupboard. Inside was nothing. Just cobwebs and dust and the whisper of something dark scuttling in the corners. I closed the cupboard, and breathed. I crawled into bed late that night, my mother and my father still away. The house was still silent. My breath warmed the night. It was the only noise in the house. I could hear the cupboard ache from downstairs. I fell asleep, uneasy, unquiet, unrestful. I fell asleep. I dreamt.
When I grew up, I told my curious children with itching fingers that they must never open the dark, cobwebbed kitchen cupboard. I told them that they mustn’t, knowing full well that they would.
(There are some people in this world that I wish I could be like. Beautiful, whimsical, their very being breathing poetry and autumn mist. I am loud and abrasive and sarcastic. I do not like myself very much at all.)
The leaves are falling a season too late.
The alleyways, where cats lurk and
strange men mumble to the night,
are lined with crackling golden leaves.
The rust sun seared the green away
three months ago. They did not fall
until June. The tender crunch of
leaves underfoot echoes inside
my crumbling skeleton.
The moon shines palely down,
a faint whisper of her presence
ghosting along the sapphire blue
of the afternoon. I watch the sunset
kiss the horizon goodnight, before
leaving as she does, a jealous lover
seeking out new men to adore.
The sun leaves us cold and wanting,
whilst the moon carries on bereft.
Translucent clouds streak across
the expanse of eternity, leaving
the faintest mark against the
They are cigarette smoke,
blown from a Parisian balcony.
A lonely girl sings ‘Moon River’
to the night, while she smokes
from fragile cigar dangling between
frail fingers. The clouds condense
and escape, stretching along the sky
like the bird that has finally found
the freedom of flying.
The winter chill finds warmth
behind my birdcage ribs,
a home for hibernation. The cold
flees the cold, seeking warmth.
In the winter months, the sun is distant
and offers no comfort.
Inside my chest,
cracking leaves, quiet moons and
wishful clouds wait for
I can hear the even beat of your thrumming heart,
an ever present bassline to the melody of life,
whilst the continents drift and the stars dance.
My fingers dance in time down your piano spine,
playing upon your vertebrae like ivory keys,
my kisses the black sharps, bruising pale bonewhite.
(But the song always ends before we’re ready.
We long for a concerto, but all you gave us
was a measly pop ballad that went for three
and a half minutes.)
The woodland girl breathes shallow
when surrounded with bright lights.
The city does not breathe, does not
undulate when the wind blows.
The buildings stand quite still,
thinking their silent, sacrilegious thoughts,
while bankers count out pennies and
young girls count out heartshards.
The woodland girl is out of touch
with platinum and perspex, instead
she wraps the wind around her fragile shoulders
like a cape, and drinks in sunlight like business men
drink coffee. She speaks with ancient oaks,
not baristas and waiters, whispering stories
to ferns and flowers. Inside her heartchamber
a single daisy grows, hiding her face in the night,
searching for angels and warmth when the sun
dances in the meadows. The woodland girl
does not know how to breathe, move, live
in the city. She is captive to steel and mortar,
while the forest cries out for the girl who danced
with the morning fog, and sang hymns to all things
I walked home in the dusk, and the sky looked as though it were painted across the firmament canvas with watercolours—lilacs and sky blues and pale yellows. The world seemed to be a painting, with the leaves nearblack while I looked up into the heavens. I could see the barest twinkle of one or two stars, shining through the last rays of the sun, who fled for her night’s rest. I stared and felt my heart thump in response to the barest sliver of a silver moon. The sky, the stars, the moon and the ever-dancing sun seemed to mean so much more than I. I wonder, does the inspiration hold more meaning than the artist? Do I hold beauty within me with my words, or is beauty simply leant to me for a brief moment, while the celestial beings allow me poetic thoughts for one brief moment? I am very tired, and I will watch the stars come out one by one as the light takes its leave for the night. The darkness will be warm & comforting tonight.
On my lover’s back, there are
forty-three freckles. His caramel skin,
flecked with moments where the sun
burnt too brightly (and seared God-crafted
flesh). He tells me of the days
when he would run naked in the shade of mountains,
wearing scarves and mittens and gumboots,
but nothing to cover his modesty.
Between nature and he,
there was only openness,
and God saw everything.
I trace his freckles with my tongue,
mapping out Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus,
before Dante’s Inferno bursts into a thousand fiery pieces
(and they settle inside our lungs, burning poetry
and our love in order to keep us warm
in the winter).
My lover has a freckle shaped like Alaska,
which rests just above the corner of his lips.
When he smiles,
my heart thumps seismically,
and my world seems to shift.
Continents realign, simply because
his smile ignites realms I had long forgotten
in the dark corners of my heart.
After the universe has contracted, expanded—
after our bodies have coalesced in the dusk—
I will trace his freckles down his piano spine
with my aching fingertips,
and revel in the goosebumps that whisper in his flesh,
for I know:
he feels me,
& I am alive.