Talking

I once, when I was young but not obscenely so, went up to a tree in my lawn and tugged at one of its dangling, lazy branches with my soft, innocent, child hands, just as if I were shaking the hand of a stranger.

‘Hello, Tree.’

Just like that. It kept swaying only slightly in the warm evening wind that kept lapping up to us like a wave pushed back and forth by the tide. Of course it didn’t answer or nod its own greeting back; instead, after my words had sliced through the closing stillness, there the tree was, still swaying, still rustling its leaves in the evening wind like before. I had a revelation then—for how wonderful it was! I thought. How wonderful that I could rush out of my house and come to this tree, and shake its hand and speak truth or fiction to it, and at the end, it would remain still tall and proud, as before.

For there I realised my words were only sounds. Nothing else for the proud old tree, but the crisp crumbling of rocks, the harsh calls of crows. And if the tree could see my book shelves, I wondered, would it be able to tell apart the books that were picture books, and the ones that were not so?

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Collision

I’m not a number.

I’m not real or rational.

You may attempt to find my sum,

but I will warn you that

I contain none of the symmetries

you might expect.

Your flower pot has something beautiful

growing inside of it is all

I want to say.

You’re beautiful

plus very far away.

I cannot stop remembering the details of this messy life.

There may be various species of pain.

By the windowsill,

the sunflower shrinks against the sky.

It is parched.

I take a sip of water.

I cannot stop remembering the details of our messy life.

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I like the lace curtains, they outline chrysanthemums, curling up in white-threaded bloom, while just behind, the snow clumps and falls to the hard ground with inaudible thumps.

The heater belches. Thump.

The electricity flicks off. Thump.

I sit and glue my eyes to the screen off a new landscape, icy, discoloring my view into something unfamiliar. Thump.

I want to scratch nails at the heavy oak table. Thump. I pull at the metal blue lamp. Thump. I push at the blackened bookshelf, away from the door. Thump. I sit back down, out of breath. Thump. I lay down, and try to sleep.

But it still stings, and the thumps keep falling. Inaudible now, just like the snow, never listens.

Sleeping and Waking

At night, she thought about death, but in the morning, when she had at last shaken off the coiling fingers of teasing dreams and nightmares, she remembered life. At night, nothing would appease her, but in the morning, she would look outside the window and see a seagull pecking busily at bags of overflowing trash, and that by itself would vanquish death, would belittle it till it seemed as real as the monsters children believe hide in their closets at night. But she had never feared monsters; but from a young age, she had feared mortality. At five years old, she had stepped outside on her cold balcony, in a night still but for the echoes of faraway motorcycles, and stared out into the deep everything that lay before her, and realised how much of it there was and how little of her there was to take it all in. But in the mornings, she would laugh at the ignorant, cawing seagulls, and feel thrilled to step outside onto the warm summer streets, to have even one day of existence.

Remembering

At his house, she ate the carrot cake that tasted like their summer before it flew away on the breath of the red leaves, which cracked and curled under her feet, and the time felt never ending, like she was water swirling down a drain, and she laughed at the turning seasons, growing and un-growing themselves into the monotonous cycle of being forgotten (yesterday he asked her to sing but she giggled instead and he frowned and she laughed, and laughed, and pushed the air out so hard that her eyes grew wet from remembering).

Dove

A dove sinks through the air.

like a little boat,

lost in the ocean with a hole in its side.

A languid storm torments her,

slowly and silently,

until the beauty in her body is run out by grey.

Light from her face is dwindled to a shadow,

a hollow frame,

and each bone is standing high

– out of place.

Yet, through the cold she flies

to a hill where time stops

and she bathes in a pool of silence.

A fleeting moment of peace dances in winter twilight,

and forgotten

is the perpetual creep towards an ashen flood.

For a stolen second grey fades

and life saturates:

there is light. And it triumphs.

But too soon the evening tide must pull her away,

feather by feather,

clawing, until she sinks, bare, into a dark sea of stone.

Her eyes glaze open in a search for sleep,

and tortured by vague sentience:

she floats, transient and motionless in a calm panic.

With cruel ease, the night greets the dove:

he takes her

piece

by

piece

then

all at once.

The ochre brush of her life, in time, is short

but she leaves a drop

golden and beautiful in a swelling sea of grey.

And that is how the dove

lost her flight.

In memory of Katy Dove 1970-2015