Friday 21 July 2017

Snapshots #2: In collaboration with Lara Usherwood

Pink Satin

The studio mirrors multiply you
a thousand times.

Over and over
your face torn, repeated.

Jealousy there greeting me like a sister
like a sister downtrodden and told to hush
like a relative battling
with chronic shoulder pain.

Lifting weights
when will you relax.

My feet slip and slide and catch
the wooden scrubbed floor with a squeak.

In the writing I backtrack.
With creation I am life
and I have the power to backtrack.

I resurrect the bones
dress them in pink satin,
spilt milkshake reflecting
the light from the windows.

Fresh grey afternoon
parks spread out in terrible neat patterns
the glass in need of a clean.

I need need
ripples, my hands shake,
there you are at the door, leaving,
entering the corridor.

The stains of your presence
you are not really gone.

Fluorescent strip lights
and the dust-creased floorboards
lined, scummed,
the wood knocks heavy under bare feet
and I am sliced.

Snakes of satin crawl in the light
petal-skin and naked
the beat of my feet
slapping skin,

Like Jewels in the Light

Waves splash up like scattered stars, fleeting constellations resounding in the echo of the ship's horn. We peer down and you raise a skinny wrist, a gold chain dripping down, glinting in the evening sun.
   'This is my favourite time of day' you say, and if I was feeling less generous I would remind you that you say it every time we are together at this hour, which has been many, but now at this moment, as the waves churn the deck, make us float and soar like birds in an oil-heavy sky, I let you muse in your own private glow, I let you think that you have just said something poetic, and I know what thoughts do backflips in your head as you look out into the peach-gold horizon, that enigmatic slice, that unattainable sliver.
   You lean down to watch the white foam curdling at the base of the ship, and as you do so an earring falls, a big gold art deco statement that I always secretly thought looked a little overdone, a little too much for your sweet monkey face, but would always smile when you put them on. You let out a scream and I notice people's heads turn.
   'My earring!' - as if there was any doubt what had just tumbled into the dark, gloating waves.
   You keep peering down, and to each side, and further on to the distance, the innocence of a child searching for the Easter bunny, the treasure chest.
   The evening service imminent, some of the crew begin lighting the hanging lanterns and the band set up by the bar. A pleasant evening by anyone's standards, another one to tally off, to throw in the spent pile of other pleasant evenings soon to be forgot, recalled only with the smell of salt, the crackle of paraffin, and your presence beside me, undulating with chronic unease. 

 Tree Surgeon

Balmy crickets and salt-sweet drops of sweat on my forehead, the hollow sound of my boots on the sun-parched earth, horseflies and swallows and crunching snail-shells, and winding down my back, the snake-skin crackle of guilt, and how do I feel such a thing in this landscape, your face, I wish it wasn't but there it is at the end of the track, at the mouth of the forest, walking towards me with an axe in your hand, and maybe you are topless, but most likely sweating like me, too hot in a hoodie, and you swing the axe as you stare at me head-on, like you know for certain that it's me and you're not surprised in the slightest and your skin is dark tan and I know you've been cutting down trees or at least collecting branches from the dead ones.
   Shadows – I imagine dipping into them but I fear the cool dark returning me to the primordial cot, it's safer to stay in the light though it scolds – everything is gold – and here we are on the run. If I stopped the noise would be too much, and no, that's it, I must keep walking, the path goes on with nothing behind, long stems of grass, bark mingling with earth, trees, beautiful apparitions, souls turned inside out, guts and veins expressed in fragrant boughs.
   You said you always loved trees so I asked you why you cut them down – 'I mend them' you said, 'like a surgeon.'
   Looking around, I wonder what ailments you'd find in the cypress, the fern, the cumbersome oak. Would you respond instinctively to their quiet cries, their whispering pain?
   I see you with your palm spread out as if feeling a heartbeat, as if I needed any more proof that they were alive. 

All photos by Lara Usherwood