Wondering how to move now after such torpidity, wondering how to recognise now the trenches as we take slow steps across the battle fields of playgrounds, bus stops and aisles packed with questions of contagion carried in other people’s trollies. Wondering how to move again after such paralysis- limbs lurching as thoughts shift forward and then back as if it were a dance.
There’s a couple dancing, always, in a field of folly in the 8th, in Paris, in faraway France. She wears a red hat of nonsense upon coiffed hair and he- a blue suit, a little worn, a little withered like himself but they dance, always, next to a bridge where a fountain once moved to the melody.
They dance in a moment, a single solid moment, a moment that has past, like they have and the hand too that turned this stone into a study of a couple who hold each other tightly. But they are statue. Stone. Still.
They’ve been caught on a note that a band once played, for a moment before they packed up and left. We are now careful dancers, stepping out bravely to catch that next note before the band moves on.
I climbed you today in downpours and falling snows, no snowflake ever the same, no footstep ever similar, I climbed you today in sunlight and stealing shadows, in strokes of paint splattered in your memory by artists as foreign as they are familiar, I paused upon your steps, your streets of steps, the steep steps others have taken, others have trodden on, to take possession, to take pictures, to take part, to be a part of all that once was and has fallen to dust through depression and recession, no sails blow any longer to the wind’s wills, the winds upon your hills no longer home to the mills, no more the spirits linger green to the fairy’s touch, spirits are in bottles now, corked and capped and cost too much and the artists now are but a shadow of what once was, shadows for sale on the site of what once held cause, on this martyred mountain in Montmartre. I climbed you today in wind and rain, the past and future present, in a reverie of what can no longer be, I climbed you and stood above you and marked out the steps I had taken along you, along your lines and lanes that lead me here, to this day, to this moment, to this place as this snowflake fell, this unique particle never to be repeated, falling through the delicacy of creation.
I climbed you today and could hear the train beginning to pull out of the station.
I whisper into wakefulness, the body stirs before the brain, the blood before belief, I curl into colder corners of the covers to encourage skin to come round as sound slips in just before the sight, light pours into eyelids slowly opening, toes slip out to inspect the season but the soul knows the truth; I bear every season in a single day, a snowstorm in the stench of summer, in moments overlapping; burning flesh on ice cold streets (Paris can perish you behind its postcard perfection), springs of hopeful holds that fall to less likely, there is an unbreakable blossom in this heart that covers the precious particles like once perfect snowflakes that have since been shattered, strings that have been strung; strung out, strung up, turned to taunt, I recall the harmony but am a stranger to the words we wound into songs, stretched into surrenders. Your calls now drown us both from the far end of another ocean I thought to be tempered with tepid time, phone floods forage where even distance cannot dissipate the despair that settles on the floor beside me, a shallow pool of strangulation after the hang-up that always feels somehow lighter at your end. So much falls away, so much falls to the ground; shattered shards no longer capturing its distant promise. I watch the snowflakes catch the wind carefully, glisten for a moment before it’s beauty losses breath on the trodden tracks of these treadmills that take us to nowhere and back again as the bluebird sings her song and the moon, even in the bright sky, still retains its shadow, ever watchful, ever wondering when we too will find our time in this fall, to fall.
In days now distant we were back side, one-up, apartment dwellers whose viewless windows enabled us to see more through the darkness than the light that might have deceived us.
Tambourine Therese tapped her tunes of truths not yet tasted, sweet tumble leaves freshly fallen from the trees in the apple orchard with the pink ladies and golden greens begging to be bitten into, we were innocence eased into a micro mini of voluptuous velvet and the brown eyed boy already broken on blue, we were scavengers seeking the scent of salvation on the shiny streets, saving up to buy into beginnings we could cut cords on, we were lyrics yet to be licked looking to Mitchell as muse; we were wild in the old days and covering Carey and cases of whoever might come calling on the Casio in our little corner as we careered through the no longer muddy marshland in search of suggestions to rise in us seductions, thirsty for tattoos to plot paths along our pale pinkness so we could track our trajectory. Gone from the garden we were growing into city, held up at first in a hotel, hostages of homelessness were we sang songs in the ignorance of our sorrow, sweet birds of youth busy building nests in the confines of concrete, blind to the battery, we were born for the bloom but forging that famed forever on a friendship that failed us like the lie of a lead balloon.
In days now distanced from all that was once dream, I have found form as lonely painter on a canvas of winding words, the connoisseur of cutting cords, often curt and callous, in the challenge to manage the malice, trying to be fateful only to the fate that awaits but caught at times, by cords that cannot be cut, whose curious concerns come a calling from cold corners I’d considered closed. I hear you on the wind sometimes still tapping those tunes I thought I’d forgotten, as veins rethread the trajectories already taken through my skin, no more so pink, no more so fresh. Fruit fades but we find ourselves reformed into fractures of what once was, fragments unfinished, like filigree too fine to unfold, like a dance as yet undone, a song we had still to sing in this city I’ve now returned to while moving on, slipping forward through shadows now past, still building nests, still seeing better in the darkness and touched, in that half-light, by the purity of your sprite, once so fair, one so rare. We fell so fast to finished and yet, as she sings of the songs like tattoos, I’m reminded of that one flight up that can never be diminished.
Summer as the city slips into slumber, after last night’s thunder, as skin slides from winter’s shawls and shackles and pitches itself proudly in parks where not even dogs bark, where shadows have sunk into sweaty soil as feverish fingers smooth skin with soothing oil. Summer in the city and temperatures are oozing over bodies, all tease and no breeze to appease. Summer in the city and the music mellows as fellows fold frowns into bottom drawers with winter wishes and curate concerns toward sunset kisses. Summer in the city and she unfurls her curls like foliage finding form over greedy grass, and he goes green with envy and furrows his frenzy as the fountain flows with full force, unabashedly, and he grows as greedy as the grass while her curves caress his consciousness and he wilts in watchful wantonness while I wait for kisses caught on Spanish lips that creep along the current of sweeping storms and sensual shifts, we are ships crossing under starlight, snakes slivering over sheets, I am not his, he is not mine, he is not hers and still not mine, we cast concern into the ripples that sink in ocean beds too deep to remember and too cold for concern, ripples that are arousing now beneath these fountains now flowing, in the park, in the sunlight, in the summer, in the city. Summer in the city and babies are sleeping in buggies buried under bushes while nannies dose and daddies delight in their sweet blooming rose. Summer shines on the city and streets slip from worries and rushes to brushes with light and lazy, humming hazy harmonies like he once strummed upon my strings a serenade sweet enough to sweep us to older days, other days, days of revolution and voices that shone as bright as this burning sun, and on to simpler days of lemonade and laughter. Remember laughter, back before the pitter patter of drought and disaster? We are just people passing through parks, looking for stars in between the sunlight, looking for fleeting kisses, treats that are never free, saints and snakes all hissing across lawns in summer. Summer in the city but somewhere out there, beyond the sleeping stars and the deep blue sky, someone is probably crying and another, senselessly, about to die.
Sitting in a park in Paris, France as kids climb trees they’ll soon outgrow and birds busy their feathers in a dance of freedom we’ll never know. I fall through your thoughts as someone tickles strings on cords too distant to be discovered and wonder where you sat; on the orange carpet caressed by the concerns of a girl growing through her own song of sorrow? Next to the guy with the hat and harmony, no doubt, who guards his guitar from the bright light, in the as yet starless sky, as if he knows how celebrity will one day cripple his creativity. A blackbird bows before me, burrowing his burdens into the road, looking for crumbs cast off, for a little refuge, like you did, like we all do, a little distraction from the circling sun and shining skins blustering under bland and blander. Sitting in a park in Paris, France, as if in a trance from 22 to 42, when I first found favour with following you, back room, no light, bedsit; we were masters of the Marais, simple singletons, senselessly sinking innocence into the marshes, courting kisses for a single spark and rising over losses we thought at the time to be insurmountable disasters. But they were just dances like these tiny birds around me now, prances we perform, up and under, over and through. We are all naked birds flirting with honesty and invisibility under the sweltering sun, sometimes remembered, sometimes forgotten before begun. Sitting in a park in Paris, France, still trying to understand the message in the melody underlying and still trying to comprehend the cords forged in the flesh of the boy so blue.
faster than feet can find footing, forced to face up, catch up, stand up, turn up. Running
through streets cluttered with collisions I’ve already crossed, with bunkers of bones already broken, with senses still shackled to skins already shed, layers lost in houses I thought were homes but they were just illusions; deliciously devious enough to delude as time turned, keeps turning, keeps taking and I keeping running
looking, always, for the rest, for the rest of me, for a rest. Running
backwards now through a city of shadows that have shifted in the seasons I sought out other shores, other stimuli, other skins to slip beneath. Back now to before, but more different, more difficult, more deceiving, catching sight of myself in half lights and side streets, catching sight of the sides that I am no longer in this older render. Running.
Wondering is this it? Is this enough? Is this who I am? Running
towards something seen once, but now forgotten, a suggestion in the shadows of these streets but with a hope, however fragile, lying between the bone and the broken, that these are just augmentations on the byway to my becoming.
There’s a lady with a leek, on the metro, next to me, a vegetable, vegetating while she’s reading a book, and that leek, next to me, moving through the miles, like vegetables, on shopping aisles, vegetating, waiting be cut, to be cooked, killing time; twisting, stopping, starting. There’s a leek, on the lap of the lady next to me with the book that holds no answers in the turned pages as we move on the metro, this morning, leek playing dead so she won’t cut of its head at home, later on, not here on the metro, not here with a knife (that wouldn’t be right) not a lady with a knife on the metro moving cause there are checks now, at the stations, you know, so the homeless now can have a job, don’t you know? Funny things when you travel on the metro, when you think on the metro, next to ladies with leeks, scouring cook books for something to eat, something to get us out of this state, on metros moving through aisles and dodging the missiles that are coming increasingly now more than just once in a while!