Saturday, February 23, 2008

sweet dreams

She used to make me sleep with teeth under my pillow. And not just my own. Not just the milk ones that fell out of their own accord. She would find them, collect them, borrow them or buy them. Dog teeth, sheep teeth - bartered from the butcher. The teeth of other children that she saw fall during rough games at the playground. Fairy teeth that she plucked while they lay sleeping soundly in the sun-drowned flower beds.

A sprinkle of enamel every night. Sometimes a double dose beneath two pillows - plumped and stuffed full of feathers I laid down. But I still felt them nibbling and nipping. Sometimes I would wake with ragged earlobes and a bloody nose. Sometimes there were holes in my dreams big enough to poke your head through.

On my birthday one year she gave me a tooth of her own. She snapped it off with her sharpened tongue and spat it right into my palm. She told me to suck it. Ordered me to enjoy. I told her it tasted like violets, but her eyes looked like thunderclouds.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the history of love

[a list inspired by the title of a novel by Nicole Krauss]

is rotting in an unmarked grave

is chequered never polka dots

is a pillaged shipwreck

is second-hand

is a riddle on the tongue of the dumb

is growing paler by the day

is 17 syllables scribbled onto a folded playing card

is largely written in invisible ink

is a rhymers paradise

is a hurricane in a feather factory

is cause to carry an umbrella

is a unnamed god in an unlabelled bottle

is a secret splinter

is a ruptured aorta

is unpunctuated

is borrowed from a travelling library

is littered with broken lightbulbs

is stuck together with fairy glue

collected cobwebs

[a few dusty relics that need to be aired]

If I lived in an abandoned lighthouse I’d use it as a personal sundial. I’d watch the giant finger of shade swing through three hundred and sixty degrees. Catching all the little creatures in their sunny stride. Throwing autumn back to the trees. Spotting the difference between those who told the truth and those who lied.

- - - - -

There were veins in the flowers they gave her - red running lightly through yellow. There were veins running through the people she loved too - knotted and bottled and sometimes blue. There were dark threads between her days - tying morning to evening, night to day. She knew if she lost her pocket scissors she lost her way.

- - - - -

It wasn’t the book that smelled musty like the face of the woman on the cover. It was memory, waiting in the afternoon air for someone to catch it. The smell of seventeen and those paper cups with the orange powder within. The vending machine drinks he claimed he was addicted to. The way they stacked together, each fitted into the next like a paper spinal column. Infinity came easily those days. Bitter and sweet at the same time.

- - - - -

He uses a trolley on wheels. Tilts it back to move them about. Fridges and freezers and washing machines. All sealed within plastic sheeting with polystyrene corners. He shifts them about to a pattern only he knows. White blocks of differing dimensions. Perhaps he wants to build an igloo - one that will only grow cold when he plugs it in.