distance

Some side effects are not known until they are experienced; nobody keeps a record, because the list would be too long. The side effects of distance present themselves to the individual as time goes by, and all cases are different.

I sat in Civic Square, after everything was established as being ‘okay’. For the time being. I walked behind a tourist family who chattered away, wondering at their whereabouts. The mother noticed the gulls padding around, screeching at one another, and commented that they must be back near the sea.

They were, of course, and yet all I could think about was seeing a lone seagull in Montreal, several months into my time there. Montreal is on an island, but it’s a long way from the sea. It was a moment not unlike the first rainfall that I experienced while there (rain! this is so exciting! it’s warm enough to RAIN!), but a little more emotionally fraught.

Homesickness is a bitch.

But this isn’t about homesickness, not exactly. It’s about difficulty, it’s about frustration, it’s about being in the wrong place – or someone else being in the wrong place, at least. It’s about distance.

I have already written here about how my dad is in Honiara, in the Solomon Islands. Fortunately, it has been a milder couple of weeks for them since the floods and storms and earthquakes of earlier this month. But the worry still exists – the thought that something even more dire could yet happen, while I sit in my windswept but mostly safe house on a hill in this strange little corner of the world I call home.

Then, closer to ‘home,’ yet still far away, Auckland looms to the north. Last night, I forgot to turn off my alarm, and so I woke up earlier than I meant to. In scrabbling to turn the sound off, I saw missed calls, texts. And so, I found out, seven-ish hours after the fact, that my mum had had a midnight ambulance ride to the hospital, and was still there.

Things like that will really reinforce the distance.

She was discharged late this morning, and I had just gotten off the phone to her when I sat down in Civic Square. I accidentally dropped a bit of my sandwich, and was inundated by gulls and pigeons. After the initial furore had died down, I watched them wait in hope, a couple of them clearly in positions of authority as they puffed themselves up and marched towards others, undeserving of this chance at scraps. I went to the library, I went to work, my head trying desperately to keep everything level. We drank gin and tonics at the end of the day, and I caught the bus home, everything still churning, and all sorts of write this down! ideas came and went, but this one was the most obvious one to stick with.

And so here it is. Distance.

held

i meant to find some comfort in the keyboard, finding myself awake later than i should
borderline hyperventilation, reliving moments best left to the past, ill-chosen reminders
for every word of reassurance, this too shall pass, you are so strong
once in a while the breakdown, the relinquishing of control to that baser part
known for its lingering, its fears, its dread – it descends and the wind outside will not dislodge it
the rise and fall, lost in the trough where bad dreams feed and breed
the but, the every but that comes to mind
so easily shot down, words are wind, since this is some strange fantasy after all
alms given in casual words
he told me i lacked empathy, smug and meditative
i told him empathy is why i’m still here

sometimes my illness makes me feel strong
sometimes i tell myself that it is what has led me to this place
that it is no bad thing to have your path drawn in strange ways
better sense tells me that it was not health that drove me this way
in goals and in dreams
but it is what i owe my unhappiness to
directly, indirectly, every day, looking at scars
a constant thrum of malcontent
no end in sight, just a lifetime of people telling me
how strong, how brave, how inspirational
and waiting for the next drug or op
i do not want sympathy
i just want to be better
i want to have energy so that i may be able to live
i want to not live in fear, or less of it at least
i want to not have to use this page
as a diary or a one-sided counsel
i just want to be better.

for you

how the sea laps around my legs
salt caking blisters
saline kisses to my skin

the ocean is an anchor
belaying sound, pulling it deep
carrying it far away

if i call, will you hear?
my voice will fall through deep water
until it reaches you
your ankles
waiting in the surf
and my words will bounce up
like so many water droplets

but when it is summer here
and the water welcoming
winter snows fall about you
and feet would never make it
to the sea

a world apart
like lone whale song
none shall ever hear it
yet still i shall sing
for you
just in case

strange blues

inside stone walls
strange noises
the rock it calls

lie in wait
this strange dead cave
imagine bats and eels
light refracts and hits
turns blue

mysteries of primordial sin
trapped inside
trapped within

 

(in case anyone is concerned for my state of mind after reading this, fear not, I was simply feeling slightly spacey (tramadol flavoured evening) and poignant whilst waiting for friends in a stone-walled pub. not to worry!)

 

summers past

you are drowning in the heat
in the sticky sickly slick of summer

feel the days bead along your arms
your forehead
anywhere that hair falls

you are a child, a babe in arms
eating a plum
on your face
on your pale blue dress
in your white blonde hair
on your delicate toddler tongue
too tart, too delicious
that summery plum

you are young, dancing on the lawn
cartwheeling over sprinklers
lying on hose-sodden earth
licking water from blades of grass
ants on the daisies, on your arms.

here we are

Here we are.

Sitting in a white house, above the steaming road, looking out onto a valley of evergreen trees and elderly homes. The walls, the floors, they are old – they are inhabited by laughing  young people, frivolous in their spending, high-powered finance jobs paying for their mortgage. And yet,

here we are.

I am twenty two. I have a job, a title, responsibilities. I have an email signature, my own extension, a work station. At the hospital, in the patient lounge, I hear staff outside say my name, and one say, ‘is she the girl in there?’ – the girl. Can I blame them, thirty years younger than anyone else, turning up in pink converse sneakers, two plaits swinging over my ears? I am in a chasm, a city fringe netherworld where I pay rent, and cook (occasionally) and have a love hate relationship with the fact that some of the windows in the lounge are on a slight slant. I don’t want to grow up, but I want to keep living this Ponsonby-flavoured dream. So I must persist, and I do persist, and here we are.

Writing stories meant for teenagers; using that as an excuse to read stories meant for teenagers. Wishing that I was a teenager still – twisted, I know, but the days of potential, the days of what could be – every day that passes, the dreams die a little. Here we are, twenties, jobs, rent, bills, loans. I thought I would be a blue haired jazz musician authoress by now, with international fame and infamy. I had blue hair, sure, but it didn’t last long, and everything else has either fallen by the wayside or is still a work in progress. I thought I would be in love with a girl – I’m in love with a boy. I thought so much. I still do.

I think, right now, as I sit in my white house, French doors opening, grey pre-dusk clouds sitting above the treetops and skimming over the squat towers along the ridge behind… I think, here we are, Briar. Mask the bitter taste of prednisone with more cranberry-grapefruit juice, and do what you must, and everything will happen, this is the beautiful chaos of reality, and we’re here to see it unfold.

prohibition

you couldn’t call it nostalgia
for it’s before my time
and yet,
fluttering heavy lashes, steeped in kohl
pouting dark lips, cupid bow kisses
careful waves to frame the confection
a sequin embrace, a scalloped hem
legs encased in sheer wrappings

watch me party like it’s 1929
like there’s feathers in my hair
charleston-ing my way into the night