Sleep. I don’t sleep anymore at night. I don’t sleep very well, or, not at all. You only see what you want to see. You only see the sum-aura of me. You have no proof of who I have loved. No one knows who I really am. And I want to be yours, but I can’t. And I want to have a child, before I am too old to have a child. It seems as if I have already travelled halfway. And I have suffered. I think that I have suffered too much already. I have buried the renal unit far underground where you find the dead of the fairground. Where sea meets the floor of the ocean. Where river meets dust. And enemies meet up with ash heap. The waking inside the iceberg doesn’t come naturally. There are deadlines even here amongst the elements, amongst poor family life, dysfunctional life stick figures. There is project management here by children. I know, because I used to be one of those children. I ask myself now, am I being value-based by this, my tiny prejudices, my dreams, the visions that I have of the moth environment that I live in, the buzzing world around me, the holistic visions that I have of my future self. I’m an actor who doesn’t care what you think of me. I live on stimulus and impulse alone. Those are the laws that I live by. I should have had those children. Shouldn’t have listened to my father. Should have paid more attention to my mother when I had the chance. Maybe my life wouldn’t be such a fine line of a mess now. Staying at home with elderly parents. Struggling to carry on with my life which is a grownup life now. My life is just an illusion now. Nobody listens to this ghost, this voice, apparition capturing the castle.
This tongue for the silent. Even the mountain has a tongue. Everest can speak volumes. Even the valleys, the rivers, the hills of Misty Upham can speak volumes. I cry and people stare for pleasure. Family members that is. I think of my mother refusing to feed me because I did not find love like she did, or, have three children, two daughters and a son, like she did. She feeds her husband. She feeds her son. They in turn feed each other. It is a life I cannot understand. This life of both isolation and alienation and being whipped into submission. I find it difficult to show emotion in a public life. In the personal, I am much more grounded than my mother, less shallow, less vain than she is. I think that I connect more with people who are mentally ill. With people who are as wounded as I am. With just as much with people who have been as hurt by the world as I have been. Storytime for me has always been poetry, the love of poetry, for I find stories even in poetry, in the faces of children and their dramas. At its hurts not coming home to someone in the middle of the day who calls me mummy. I think of Noah’s assignment and the flood. All my father’s teachings that I accepted. My mother’s laws that I accepted. And it seems as if I did a really bad job at everything at the end of the day. Still living at home. Now caring for an elderly parent who suffers from depression. I can’t believe that Elizabeth Wurtzel is dead. That she died of breast cancer. I thought she would outlive me. I thought Rabbit would outlive me. I thought Magda would outlive me. No, they did not.
Ruth found a husband. Boaz married Ruth. I do tend to think of marriage as something I have missed out on. I lived to outlive them all. There are days when it feels like I am that Persian emperor, or, at least my mother is the Persian emperor’s mother. Her son is the arrogant dictator of the family. There are days when all I want to do is live, and eat, eat, and eat. Live to be the woman who ate everything. Even women can think like kings, and rule empires like kings. And I think of my aunt Jean’s skullcap wig of hair when she was still around, meaning, when she was still alive. When she was in remission. I think of my quotations. I think of my interviews. I think of my blogs. I think I know why he doesn’t come to the house anymore. If I had feelings for a man, especially a married man, and he halfway returned those feelings, I wouldn’t see him again, even if he only came to see my father whose health is failing. God brings man a wife. Man marries, takes vows in a church. I never hear, or, see from them again. And my mother looks to me as if to say it is all your fault. You could have caught the big fish. In retrospect, I sometimes think I would have been a happier all-round kind of person if I had married. The right one always seems to come along; except I don’t feel supercharged with readiness to take the marriage plan into action. To be a stepmother. I had never been mothered, so how would I know to mother another’s children. I always think I make the right decision. Not to marry. Not to give in. Not to eat, pray and love. And then, it dawns on me. The mistake I made in not making that choice. I would be a mother if I had married.
I always wanted to be a mother. I would have had the most important job in the world. To raise children into adults who would contribute positively to society. I would have had to move from this room with a view in my childhood house where I am still a grown child hovering near my mother, treating my infirm father with love and care and grace. I grew up in a time, and am from a generation before women had wings, where both grandfathers were alcoholics stemming from the war, stemming from personal problems, stemming from twelve monkeys. The order of the day for them was to literally drown their sorrows, to be gone in drink. To wake up hungover and go to work anyway, and go to the tavern after work. I write. In order to save myself. I write in order to plant a rose garden where nothing green has ever grown, or, come together before. To me my father is the saint in the family. He never raised his voice. He never hit us. Yet the three of us, my siblings and myself all have our own fair share of neglect and abandonment issues because of him. My mother in her way has become prophet. Pouring herself into the novenas, pouring her money into the Catholic bookshop, into the saints, into salvation and redemption from all wrongdoing, even though she is not Catholic. She wants us to come to God with her administration of choice. She wants all of us to be religious, to keep the Sabbath holy, to preserve ourselves for the marriage bed, to not drink like a fish. I think everything about her, every neurosis that she has, I have. My sister might have inherited her style, class and beauty, but everything else I got. I got it bad.
I got it in a bad, bad way. I got it in a something is rotten in the state of Denmark way. Turning manic depressive when I was twelve years old. Becoming promiscuous in my twenties. Brought up in a Christian household, but living as an agnostic. We weren’t loved. We were tolerated. Taught to become independent at an early age. We were grown up at ten. Cooking for ourselves whenever our mother was depressed. My father still ate at his mother’s house. There would be arguments about this that sent us off to our bedrooms, or, watching Loving glassy-eyed, pretending to be not involved in what was happening around us. The iceberg’s glacier walls melting at an alarming rate. More warnings. More warnings come with rain. A waterfall of tears. Rot-gospel everlasting. The artistic greatness of a mother-figure. Tender words between a father and a daughter. This same girl, a barefoot girl in the centre of summer. All I ask is your sacrifice in the centre of winter. Here’s a bravado, though it is a false one in the following lines. There is a dark house, a kind of museum filled with shrouds, with reckoning, dazzling suffering. Earth and rural countryside. Silent mother-tongue masked by the element of rain. Pulling you down to the glitter of the sun. Such loss inside the barefoot girl’s vital head. A room filled with emptiness. Futility. Solitude in the passage of a ghost. The machine is as quiet as a machine that is not plugged in. Blue veins as cold as frost in the world. Evening chill of the moonlight. Teeth against the light. I know this light like I know the back of my hand. The inheritance of Paris. Soweto and Korsten.
Newtown and Coronationville. Gelvandale. Schauderville and Springdale. Port Elizabeth. Cape Town. Johannesburg. Parisian rooftops. I am forever losing men like my mother misplaces her car keys. In this cold universe, nothing exists. The barefoot girl is just an illusion. Her forcefield is a volcano, and she is a hunter. A vision poured out of the landscape. The owner of heaven. Soul. Feet. Blood. Gift. Barefoot and dancing until she is exhausted. I looked again at the barefoot girl and closed my eyes. There are rewards that come with wisdom. I loved a heart. A life. A blue man. A lonely man. But he came with gifts. Mountain that taught sea. Mute fields filled with wounds. Of flesh and bone written on the hands of the stars. The sleeping landscape and expression of fluid and stem. He taught me that every wound has its own heart. Its own tears. Its own waterfall. Lover, come home. Touch my starving face. My love is as fierce as a lover coming home. Being welcomed home just as flame, dust. Echo. Just as the boots are welcomed home, so am I. The sharpness of winter’s soul and feet. The cold hysteria of a mountain. It’s blood and gift. The winter sap and autumn pane. The difficult child. The difficult children. The rough heaviness that I carry in my belly for the sober ones who believed in me in high school. The ones who weren’t cowards like habits and echoes. Fury and the telling river sucked the grin off my face. Inside my head I fashioned a scratchy know-it-all tune, a swarm of bees inside my perfect red little heart, and discovered that there’s hope in every nightfall. All-black knowing, spying eyes exploding into view.
A kingdom of children. Look! Here’s a nest of tourists. A flock of birds in my hands. Look at me! In autumn, leaves drown in rain. In winter, in melting snow. Pure! Tender! Despair! Vertigo! There’s flight, fight and adrenaline even in a stare. Son, in your face. Sun, in your face! Breath is completed by gasp. The rib of action by Sabbath living it up. Here it is. The arrival of the sea. The rewards of wisdom belong to this moment. And so, we leave our life in the hands of others. It was once said to me that a gentle answer quietens anger. Things I tell myself. I can smell her perfume. Opium by Yves St. Laurent. It still has the ability to captivate me as it did when I was a child, when I was in my mother’s presence (even after all these years). Her hand. It is a cut-out of the vibrations of a hand gesture. A cut-out of the sun in the far-off distance. Her voice sounds like dark water. The woman stands in the blue light. The woman is my mother. The woman is delighted. The flowers delight her. The woman eats-and-eats the French toast that I make her. The woman goes where she wants. The woman is my mother. Her country is night. Her country burns. The needle is a lovely flower in a magazine. The woman is beautiful. The woman is my mother, A sister, a daughter, an orphan, a wife. I tell myself that she cannot for help the way she is. That she cannot help not loving me in the ways that she does. I write the words down. The woman is a city in ruins. The woman’s dress is elegant. It is quiet now and cold out. Everybody is not here. Someone is missing. My sister is missing. She is packing her suitcase. Packing her suitcase for Prague.
She’s never even heard of Rilke. You’re pale, mum. Mum, you’re depressed. Here, let us have something to eat. It was my mother who taught me the language of fire and the vanities of a woman. The flame that burns as bright as her son. In her hands, a light-green valley is lit. My mother is summer when I go to sleep and when I wake up it is always cold out. The forecast is always rain and I am always chasing waterfalls in my notebook. When I wake up, I too am a city in ruins.