I think about what kind of gift I would give her if I dared. An image comes into my mind of a glossy paperback with a rough stick wedged through it. Not placed inside but stuck through the cover and the pages, piercing them, almost sewn in like thread, right across the middle in a vertical line. Impossible, the inexplicable violence of it completely at odds with what it means about us, her, my feelings towards her, and yet it feels like the only right answer. Earthy, and all that mothers. Who’s to answer for our such wild notions? I picture her taking it from me, looking at it seriously, and at me, eyes asking, This Is For Me, From You, This Is The Answer? I almost nod, she almost reciprocates, taking the book. The air between us presses like a vacuum, compressing us into a still scene, each part of my intention crumbled like charcoal and dried into paint. She does not touch the stick, but we both feel it as if it were caught through our bodies. We are both here, but are we ready?
Do not ask me to love myself as you love me
I do not see in my face what you see,
treasure in my countenance what you must.
I cannot love myself as you must.
They say that every time you end a relationship, a ghost of the person stays with you. Every time. Can you imagine the noise? How crowded, how busy your space would be? And never mind you, how busy must those ghosts be? Do they have to split their time haunting all their other exes? Do they split their time or their essence? If their presence gets thinner, I suppose you can tell they have been through and ended another relationship.
Let’s not forget, you ended things with them for a reason. You decided not to spend the rest of your life with them. Surely they do not remain willingly either. Surely neither of you can move on while they linger. Do you get a say in who stays?
How do you quantify a relationship anyway? How long do you get to make up your mind before you have to either break things off or get stuck to a soul for eternity? Or both? And what qualifiers let you know that someone is an essence you do want to be doused in for the rest of time? Do vampires ever really know what they’re getting into when they turn someone? Why am I writing vapid questions like Carrie Bradshaw?
Perish the thought… can you ever leave yourself? And if you do, what kind of ghost are you left with?
I am followed by no less than Stephen, Stefan, James, Jamie, Ryan, Aaron, Nathan, Martyn, Chris, Tom (sorry, Thom), Pete, Pete, Pete (shut up), Jamie, Carl, Brindle, Mark and… phew, no, that’s it. So, that’s seventeen, if you’re counting, and some of them are rowdy fucks. God help me if they were all to surface at once. I think I’d be surrounded by the most intense of British unease of difference of character; the poets, the thugs, the clowns and the cheaters.
That sounds like not much that’s nice to say about you as a collective. Which is a shame, really, given my ethos of honouring the connection, of respecting one’s past decisions. Maybe I’m not so upstanding after all. Maybe I don’t practise what I preach. But there’s time.
Dear Héloïse Letissier,
Having just watched your music video for the song Christine, I know that we are meant to be together. As sisters, lovers, soulmates.
Spotted in Sainsburys
The ghost of you hovering
In the aisle next to mine
An instance, flash reminder
In the big bright window
To warn me from treading
In the crocodile water
Just in time probably
To escape your notice
Thankful to keep this
Moment of inner terror
To myself and to the cigarettes
I want so badly to buy
Without you seeing
And judging that you were right
To fall out of love with me
Lovers can be segregated
By big things
Like warring families
By there being only
One comfy chair in the study
Relegating me to the sofa
For our day of writing
I creep out from the fluffy covers
To feed the cat
Is my excuse to your clutching arms
But really I am clamouring for tea
Upstairs you snore and I hear you rearranging heavy furniture
Downstairs I make arrangements with the cat
To keep farts to a minimum of decibels.
The postman knocks the peace into our dreams,
But he is friendly and bears gifts for you.
I creep back up again
And slide your tower of parcels along to your side of the bed
You roll over, grinning at my sneaking,
And deliciously we unravel the postman’s treats.