birth

Ragged Umbrellas

 

the sun is a dark smudge in the sky
for the ghost women of the birthday
pale fat arms cradling plates of apple pie
trailing smoke from a burnt out day

the clouds bleed quietly down for hours
and they dance under ragged umbrellas
singing about how they love to be powerless
the houses of ritual have made them careless

and sometimes the light shows their true faces
behind the opera masks - there are no words
for their expressions - there is no place
for comfort or for grace, the songs they heard

as children, when afternoons on dirty strands
became evenings drifting out to sea in dreams
asleep in the back seats of cars, hands
twitching in the rhythm of piano lessons, hymns

washing in from memory shores like wrecked ships
as sadness and failure like cold voids
suck the clouds and the sun down into their lips,
their skin, their hair; they frown, they get annoyed

by children who will not obey, pets who want to die,
dolls who will not stand upright, friends and lovers
self-obsessed and desperate, who cannot cry,
cannot speak the truth, cannot stay together -

the ghost women drift through parties and wakes
as the songs and the rain tell them in whispers
that they were once young, that the hand that shakes
is a punishment, the skin that is wrinkled and crisped

is a judgement on their innocence, and they watch
the children learn about loss, they watch the graves
open and swallow and close and wait, they watch
the works of the Lord, noting who he damns and saves,

what his plan might be, why he does not love them -
they gather between lifetimes where the water shines
dancing on the endless beach under ragged umbrellas
pale arms linked, lonely only in their minds

The mind giving birth to the mind

"I recognize you," she said. His face was the colour of pale wheat. He was hunched over a dark pool, staring at the space between his outstretched hands. deep in that space, a tiny spark. a white snake, a filament, wriggling and glowing. the force of his will heavy in the air, making a sound like the moaning of a high wind in the folds of the damp rock.

she shakes her head. this is not real. she says that she knows him. that they have been in this place together many times before. his eyes lift briefly from his work. the writhing light fades, and his attention returns to the space between his hands. she touches his shoulder and his skin is cold and hot at the same time. he is giving birth to his own mind and she knows that this must not happen.

my friend's eyes are so soft, his pupils dark with drugs, and he feels like everything is underwater. I felt that way once too, and there was no sense to be made of anything. he is sweating, smiling, in his mind he is naked. he leans close to me in the luminous dark and tells me things I already know. we are friends. he is lonely. his work is destroying his heart. in my dreams he is always just like this, like a child with happy, tearful eyes.

he's asleep under an old willow, like a faery imprisoned in a christmas bauble. the willow branches trail in the bright water. he doesn't know about the world any more and his brain is empty, full of sounds and tastes and sights only, and silly dreams of circles. he sleeps and wakes as if there will always be tender arms to hold him. and in my dreams, there always will.