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.
#1 The person who decided what men should smell like
There was a defining moment in history when man decided that we could no longer rely on our natural ea de toi-sweat to continue our evolutionary progression and thus the cologne was formed. Despite defying the man’s natural scents, the discovery of Lynx as a adolescent male has become a signpost in coming-of-age. With names such as ‘Excite’ and ‘Temptation’, I’m not sure that even the body sprays themselves know exactly what they are supposed to smell of, but whatever it is, my nose quite assuredly agrees.
#2 Laughter during a crisis
Whether it’s a slug in the toaster or finding out that there is no milk for your tea, there is something irresistibly comforting about the hearing of laughter during a crisis. Though I would not encourage hysterical giggling at the news of your deceased great aunt twice-removed, I do believe that, more often than not, life is a badly worded pun where the punchlines make the greatest memories.
I’m not sure if this miraculous concoction exists in all corners of the world, but I don’t think it’d be an overstatement to say that this ointment has saved my life on many occasions from all its countless functions. Though I believe the cream is meant for the menial nappy rash, it deletes my spots, cures my cuts and I’m fairly sure it would re-grow a finger should ever I lose one. I trust in the healing powers of Sudo-Crem so much, in fact, that I once even used it to cover my entire face as I believed it would make me beautiful.
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.
I hadn’t quite reached my teens when a stranger first asked me ‘what are you?’. In those days I wore eye-liner like it was going out of fashion, which, of course, by my corresponding chains and striped tights, wasn’t something I was evidently following. ‘Are you a goth?’ ‘Are you an emo?’ In a town populated by few residents, most of whom belonged to this ‘backwards’ parameter of England, it was inevitable (as my mum would often caution me) that a young girl experimenting with styles would garner a little attention now and again.
I didn’t and still don’t know how to respond to questions like this as I am sure most people can’t and wouldn’t care to fit entirely into a single ‘box.’
“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”
This quotation, I feel, perfectly encapsulates my inner and outer conflicts. I have rings through my nose but I also smell of Japanese Cherry Blossom; I often trade my shark-tooth necklace for a string of pearls and a black dress can be a white dress the next day.
But of course this isn’t entirely an inner turmoil dealing with merely the trivial issue of aesthetics. I am conflicted in so many areas of my life that it’s not even a matter of not wanting to explain ‘who I am’ to a stranger but more that I couldn’t, even if I wanted to.
Whilst I desire to be a character of morals and impeccable integrity, I simultaneously don’t want to live a life bound by contrived edicts of what is deemed correct or otherwise immoral. In a world that couldn’t deny its propensity to judge and label, it seems that ‘who we are’ is a question of limited answers.
I want to be so many things but, at the same time, nothing at all.
Whilst living on this Earth it has become apparent to me that I have somehow collected a number of peculiar objects that proudly linger amongst my shelves and/or deepest corners of my closed drawers. Here I present a list of just a few of these items!
#1 Failed attempt at ‘wine’
Some will undoubted view this possession as a sheer accomplishment of both a disregard for blackberry juice as well as cleanliness. Yet, residing amongst my most treasured ornaments lies what was -four entire years ago- a refreshing beverage. Now, however, it is a questionable, slightly fluffy, blob at the bottom of a plastic bottle. After four years of hoping it’d turn into something of interest, or at least a sip of wine, I can conclude that nothing extraordinary can be expected from the dregs of a once promising drink. Nevertheless, my sheer attachment to this item has grown so irrevocably over the years that no matter how icky it gets, I cannot seem to part with it!
#2 My leaflet collection
The art of collecting is not, in itself, an exotic nor remotely unusual concept. However, when I was a tiny bit younger (certainly not as young as I would like to admit) I decided that stamps or Beanie Babies just didn’t satisfy my human urges for hoarding. Instead, rather ambitiously, I took to collecting leaflets. Consequently, hidden amongst the depths of the darkest corners of my room, lies a shamefully extravagant box that is filled with not the remnants of what was the height in childhood toys or dolls but, rather, an extravagant array of brochures that probably gave me just as much excitement as those aforementioned toys.
#3 Antique ‘Smarties’
When the devilish tales of artificial colours flocked the news, it wasn’t long before the beloved confectionery ‘Smarties’ fell to this health-conscious pressure and decided to remove its artificial colours. It was 2008 and again, I was very young, and possibly scouting the shops for any new additions to the leaflet stand, when I noticed that there were a number of ‘Smarties’ on the counter that had not yet fallen to the higher food standards and remained as artificial as ever. Thinking I’d stumbled upon a jackpot, I bought a packet believing that they would become an antique within the coming years. What is perhaps most astounding, however, is how I have been able to avoid the temptation to dig into this confectionery for the past 8 years.
Now I’m starting to think that I should convert my room to an out-of-date food and beverage rescue centre where possibly the only thing that needs rescuing is my sanity for I am sure that it is out there somewhere!
Behind my brave, courageous and intrepid exterior (Hah.), I am undoubtedly a total and utter wuss.
And it is, by the standards of health and well-being, a serious problem as it affects my day-to-day life.
For example, if my school bag feels like it’s being weighed down by one or two more bricks than usual, I will purposefully ‘forget’ a folder, and maybe a textbook or three, to save my shoulders from the fiend that is gravity. This has left me with a polished reputation of forgetfulness but of course, the truth is only worse!
My phobia of toads also brandishes me with a title of chickenry; those little slimy legged balls of yuck can turn me (a 5 ft 9 example of evolution’s ‘peak’) into a screaming, heart-racing picture of fright.
I was so terrified of my exam results last year that as soon as I sat down to collect them I turned the pile of papers in front of me a little damp with my spiralling, uncontrollable tears! Needless to say, the teacher giving me the results also looked a little scared.
So lets just say I think I’ll be steering clear of any ‘no fear’ merchandise; unless I give in to the wonderful art of irony.
(Did anyone else notice the number of rhymes in this post? Perhaps the poetry life chose me after all!)
What is there to do
When you’re told
That your feelings
Are an illness?
And it’s spreading.
A numb, wet cold;
A plague without desire.
My mind is diseased.
And what is there to do
But just let it bleed?
For there are no bandages to conceal
What cannot be seen.