Ah, I found you.
You were hiding in the candlewick.
I have been burning these candles
for years, you see. You were with me
when I bought them, scented rose,
lavender and chamomile tea.
You wanted to put them in the loungeroom,
to create ‘ambience’, you said, when we had guests over.
You would play Satie and speak in low caramel voices
of avant-garde film and yellowing poetry.
I hid them away beside the bathtub.
You frowned but said nothing.
I would take long warm baths
every Sunday evening,
and sometimes you would join me
and we would make slow love.
The candlelight would caress my skin
more gently than you, you who would leave
bruises on my clavicle and fingerprints
on my ribcage.
Erik Satie, Chopin, Debussy,
scattered to the wind. You even took
half the green tea leaves we had, the fresh ones,
that we drank every morning before work.
I thought about looking for you,
running outside, gliding through the rain,
calling your name in desperate cries,
all cliché, and what they liked to call
I took a long warm bath instead,
and lit the candles. I listened to the water whisper
whenever I would move my aching ankles,
my stiff wrists. When I slowly, gingerly
climbed out of the bathtub,
I blew out the rose, lavender,
and there you were,
a glimmer of your smile
tucked away within the wick
of the candle.
Perhaps I will find romance
beneath the cafe au lait skin of my wrists,
beating within my royal blue veins,
flowing within my tempestuous arteries.
Perhaps if I slice my skin open with the
sharpened key, I will unlock that sensation
I lost when you left me.
The air today is thin and cold
and the clouds that gather across
the silken sky are black, angry,
destructive. When I breathe,
my lungs are filled with
& simply I long for
I look at the world
through a yellowing film,
as if everything has been captured
in a nostalgic photographic cage.
My ribcage is simply that, a prison
which binds my beating heart to be
constrained to flesh and blood when
all I want to pulse is the night.
Can not the dark fill my arteries,
and not the sun?
turn off the light,
my head is pounding
and I would like to sleep
And this is when I will relinquish you
to the darkened question of the night.
And here is where I will leave you
to wander through illusion and false hope.
I will rest here, at this quiet lonely corner,
where nightmares undoubtedly roam.
I will rest here, leaning against sensation
and relying on the dawn to wake me screaming.
You will be kept warm by words that aren’t words,
when I could have whispered you silence.
And this is when I will let you go,
while I still live with the terror of
and make love to illusion.
I, the crescent moon,
will curl around your lithe too-cold body,
as a wightwoman frosting your bed
for the night. And I will leave
the whisper of moonshine
on your thighs, your wrists,
your birdcage heart.
I will hollow out craters
just above your collarbone,
emptying your lungs of your
gasping eternal breath.
I, the crescent moon,
will not love you like the stars,
though I, the crescent moon,
will love you too early
and too little.
I drew myself a rosewater bath,
and the steam that curled & coiled
smelled of summer flowers,
I cleansed myself with
crème fraîche and sugar crystals,
silently sweetening my lavender skin.
I kissed my wrists
with strawberry lips,
and still sweetsteam rose.
I am infused with
the perfume of a flowering something.
Taste me with your culinary tongue,
and crack my caramel surface,
your crème brûlée love.
And the dress that I bought
has dainty black lace for sleeves,
the colour of the night enveloping my moonshine shoulders.
When I eat, I must be careful that macaroon crumbs
and cream of mushroom do not splash, stain the fragile material.
I sip quietly
at the Mauritian vanilla tea we bought from the markets
last Summer (strolling hand in hand down cobblestone streets
while the sun set over the city). My fingers clickclack over
typewriter keys I insisted we buy, so that I may feel more like
Hemingway. (It did not work, the words I produce are as cheap
as the lottery tickets you snatch up in deluded hope on the way home
from the office.) When you hold me in bed, curves against riverplains,
and ask me how my day went, I sigh with the stars and waste my best words
creating a fallacy so that you may fall asleep.
The morning mist
creeps in through the blinds, and I peer half asleep
as you throw on wrinkled shirt that I forgot to iron,
and a tie that does not match, that you wore two days ago.
You kiss me a hurried goodbye and buy stale coffee
from the old Italian man by the station (his wife died
a year ago). I smile halfheartedly to the tentative sunlight
that streams through the windowglass, and I dread the typewriter.
I will sip Mauritian vanilla tea, get macaroon crumbs on my lace dress,
and try to find life in the ink.
we folded laundry in the sun,
your stockings tangled and knotted
with my cheap lace bra (the one where
the underwire cuts into pinkflesh).
we drank red wine on the balcony,
nibbling on each other’s pasta and
laughing at the postman
who wandered down the street,
confused about the address he was
we wandered through the markets,
and I juggled lettuce and tomatos
to a round of laughing applause,
and you ooh’ed and ahh’ed
over dainty necklaces you could not pay for.
we drank tea together,
sitting quietly at the kitchen table,
breathing in steam and longing for the weekend,
counting heartbeats until we could escape for work.
you fell asleep alone,
and I drowned beneath the stark office lights
in paperwork and signatures and kisses
from the secretary in fishnet tights.
you made love to a stranger
on the couch downstairs, and I flicked
through the newspaper in bed upstairs,
and the moans that travelled to my ears
did naught to stir me, did naught to make me care.
you smiled a taut smile,
and I did not tell you about the cheap lipstick
on your bleached teeth, and I did not hold your hand,
and we did not fall asleep touching, and we waited for Monday.