Onder Meer (Among others)
There’s a patch of burnt grass,
Still blackened by the sausage rolls
We set alight when we were
Fourteen years old.
By the Beck, our prepubescent
Hand holding professed a love
Now lost. But still I hold
Onto the memories like a tree
Clings to its leaves-
And somehow fall
I hear our laughter
When I see the burnt patch,
But I cannot place our faces
And I cannot taste the ash.
I am a world of many worlds,
And though I am no longer
A fourteen year old girl,
I am the smoke – the embers- of
All I have ever known.
This poem was written for a friend who’s putting together an anthology based on the significance of one’s home.
I was nine years old when I first saw my wife naked, when both her body and maiden name remained intact. It was summer. The outdoor pools were dense with sweating bodies cradling the water’s cool waves. Middle-aged men bobbed up and down beneath the ripples whilst little wet droplets crept down their brows. She was heedless as I was headless; diving so intently and carelessly her swimsuit unravelled, blossoming a naked, virtuous flame from the communal pool. The splashes instantly curtailed and her beautiful, spotless body –ripened from embarrassment- started to cry unto an audience of sorry parents and mocking children. As a premature young boy I had no intention of staring, although my fascination of the human form begged me to, I grabbed a towel from the side and threw it at her. The towel immediately soaked her shame as she galloped from the pool and retreated. I was nine years old when I first fell in love with my wife.
Within the passing decades she no longer relied on me to cover her up. She used make-up to hide the imperfections that I enjoyed. Men would frequently leer in their short bouts of lust. Her cheeks didn’t blush from childish tomfooleries but from pink dusty powders. Her fresh, teary eyes were blackened by heavy-handed mascara. She was a cut-out from a magazine that I had no desire to read. Women try so desperately to conceal the truth. My father did not run out on my mother, for example, he had died in the Second World War but was later discovered- quite alive- in another lady’s bed.
When my body
Is turned to dust
Under a stone
Scoured by gust
When my eyes
Forget to widen
And leave me
In a dark
When my nerves
Cease to tread
And I feel
With words not said
I will be nothing.
But it is living without you
That turns me dead.
I am infatuated by you… and have been for so long that it appears I can do nothing but accept these feelings like one may learn to accept a disease; though it invades my mortality as a ceaseless curse, I can try only to tolerate the fever. But there is no hope to utilise what is neither wanted nor calculable.
Yet, love like my love for you can not be cured with pills or time like an ailment of the body. There is no remedy to numb nor withhold my feelings for you. These feelings that cling to me like stale smoke distorting my breath. Feelings which still cling and refuse, in their stubborn blaze, to wither.
You haunt my dreams. My sleep is a recurring, but ever false, sanction where we declare our inextinguishable love and I believe it all to be real until you’re once again taken from me as my eyes open to the bare and hopeless reality where you are not and we are no longer. I awake to a world where every piece of my love for you remains untouched and untold.
What is it about your snarling grin which arouses every nerve in my body like rocks smashing the serenity of a steady river?
I yearn for your brown curls and every crevice that forms each inch and pixel of your beauty.
With every wander of my mind you’re there; waiting.
And my days turn as empty as their days before without you.
If you were lucky on Valentine’s day you may have received a bunch of flowers, some chocolate and perhaps even a sonnet or two. But if you were especially lucky, your lover may have cooked you up a few of these hearty delicacies…
Because nothing says I love you quite like Lidl’s finest novelty encased dead birds!
A friend of mine made the ingenious remark that if Lidl had made them with actual chicken hearts it would have made this gesture even more romantic, although given the questionable quality of the shop and its produce, purchasing actual meat product would be perhaps more of a stroke of luck than anything else.
I actually like this product but not in the way that would have led me fill my freezer with them, rather, I’m fond of their delicious irony. Ultimately, they exhibit a juxtaposition between death and love, i.e. although the nuggets were made with the death of chickens and thereby a very unloving process, their carcasses have been used to represent love nonetheless.
In other words, they are heartlessly formed hearts. (That may or may not contain actual heart!)
And thus my English-wishy-washy mind continues to over-analyse, and seek amusement from, even the most secluded of freezer corners.
As a self-confessed, hopeless romantic, perhaps I have only myself to blame for my seemingly cyclic heartache. Most often this comes in the form of needing to ‘get over’ someone- an inevitable occurrence for every being on the Earth.
But what pains me the most is realising that all their insignificant traits I fell in love with; whether that was the way they pronounced particular vowels or the way their hair-flicked (for I cannot deny my shameful shallowness when it comes to hair!) those things do not exist in anyone else.
I will never meet anyone else exactly like them.
Which taunts me tremendously…
… for the reason that I like them.