A girl looking at a boy looking at a girl

I spent an hour awake

tired out of my own sick mind

trying to find a moment

when this body

this infection

living on my bitter brain

(the same as his

might I say)

when this

‘tired of your eyes’

skin tight frame

wasn’t treated like meat

offal and blood beat

a pulp

spat and secreted

I try and imagine a moment

when there won’t be someone

who would find me appetising

want to bite or tear

and consume me

from child to mother to old age

in and between

every centimetre of life

and it’s sort of funny

suffocating

body rid of air

or worse

purpose

when you realise

you’ll never not see that glare

side eyed stare

at my skin

my pink speckled flesh

gross and unloved

but still makes him salivate

pleading for more

there isn’t a time

I’m afraid

when I am not there to ingest

And it all comes back to him

looking at me

a girl looking at a boy looking at a girl

Guilty until proven guilty

Take my phone

Tell me I’m lying

Read my

‘Are you out tonight?’

And his

‘Yes, let’s meet up’

And then the gap between it all

When we were two normal students

Too normal

For that

And then the bit between then and now

The bit you care about

That bit

When my sunken eyes

Drunken eyes

Dried out

And my body bent

Inwards outwards

And my shoulder blade

Became the only memory

Of an almost forgotten night

And after that

He takes my phone and texts himself

Maybe to protect himself?

Show me he is not who he is

Show Vera more like

Prufrocked and Rushdied

I don’t often recognise references or allusions in novels. I think I gloss over a lot and miss much of what makes a book special. But, when reading ‘The Golden House’ by Salman Rushdie, something stood out. It was a line at the end of a piece of prose, poetry? The line read, ‘…is this what you meant? Or this? Is this what you meant at all?’. It was the rhythm that caught me. Made me stop. I turned to my phone as it was closer than the book and googled ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’. Now, looking back and knowing more, I see so many clearer links to the poem. For instance the reference to the narrator being ‘prufrocked’ and the almost direct quotation, ‘I have see her like a yellow dog rubbing her back against, rubbing her muzzle upon, shall I say, licking her tongue into the corners of his evening?’. Nonetheless, it was the rhythm that caught me.

Let me explain.

When I was in second year of university going through a rough spot. Rough? Maybe it was more weathered, or stormed? Anyway, I found it harder and harder to fall asleep. I tried all sorts of remedies but nothing worked. And as always when stuck in an unsure moment with no one to turn to ( or maybe someone but oh god not them) I averted my gaze and found myself looking at poetry. The one thing that seemed to make a slight difference was listening to T S Eliot reading his poem ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’ each night. The 7.52min recital mimicked lullaby. The ups and downs, peaks and troughs, cadence of his voice sent my body into as close to sleep as I could muster. It became a ritual. I’d lie and let Eliot sing to me. I’ve always believed poetry should be heard not read and this poem proves that precisely. It is a joy to listen to. Makes reading seem unsubstantial and pointless. Makes my eyes redundant and my ears gold again.

I listened to it again after my recent early evening revelations and my body went into an almost paralysis, a lucid state. I was hypnotised by a familiar voice who had tried many times before to knock me out. But this time, although my mind was preparing to shut down, I wasn’t. I was still revelling at my newfound knowledge. Insider knowledge. Like I said, I never make the links. I can never cut as deep as others into the many facets that make up and inspire a novel. I’d struck gold and it felt amazing. And so, as cliche would want it, I couldn’t sleep that night. My head full of things I wanted to share. And so I share it with you. Below is the discussed extract from the novel ‘The Golden House’ by Salman Rushdie which I recommend no one reads but everyone to have read.

“The first night and the second night, the first two nights of the new year, she demonstrates her wares, let’s him see the quality of what’s on offer, not only physically but emotionally. She…and here I rear back and half myself, ashamed, prufrocked into a sudden pudeur, for, after all, how should I presume? Shall I say, I have known them all, I have seen her like a yellow dog rubbing her back against, rubbing her muzzle upon, shall I say, licking her tongue into the corners of his evening? Do I dare, and do I dare? And who am I, after all? I am not the prince. An attendant lord, deferential, glad to be of use. Almost, at times, the Fool…But, setting aside poetry, I’m too deeply in to stop now. I am imagining her already. Perhaps kneeling beside him on the bed. Yes, kneeling, I think. Asking, is this what you meant? Or this? Is this what you meant at all?” (p.78)

Girls and boy

I was at the same time the best

and the worst

 

I felt myself torn apart

My bottom half was theirs

and my top was his

and he would stroke my hair

whilst they dug their nails

into the skin around my ankles

and in the moment when I’d look up

and see him staring down

I’d feel that wordless adoration

before their claws once more

plucked my toenails from my feet

and crawled up my legs

used knives to scar me

each one on each

 

So I found it hard to balance

with such a mess at my feet

Maybe I had to give up that part of me for him

 

I would give up anything for him.

Autumn

I watch quietly as the fields turn from green to gold whilst the corn feeds on our shared air and the earth continues, ignorant to its own incredible normality. I pick a blade of grass and split it with my nail, and then again until I’m holding tiny slivers of emerald in my hand and the weight is almost insignificant. The wind forces the dusty green in my palm to scatter and I am thinking of a time before now when she and I would lay upon this very earth and discuss our passions as if we were selling ourselves to one another.