Posted on July 22, 2015July 22, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair7.22.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Truly Madly Deeply July 22, 2015: Anything but this. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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My memory fails me. More and more each day. I lose things that matter and spend the time searching in the fluff and paperclips down the backs of sofas and discover pennies and old bus tickets folded into concertinas. But these are not the things I am talking about.
His voice – I have lost that somewhere. The sound of it. I close my eyes and listen but it is not there. I give him words to say and not hard words, and in my head he says them, but he says them in a different voice and not in his own. I remember that his voice had a colour to it, but I do not recall if it was brown or blue or green. And I think then of fishing in the river, a silken thread and a bobbing cork and somewhere in the dizzy running water a baited hook fashioned out of a pin – or was it a paperclip? And the sudden tug and tug on the line that said something was caught – and that was his voice in me, only I have lost it now and somewhere a silver fish swims free and untroubled.
And I have lost his smell, too. I am sure there was a smell. And it clung to his shirts for some time after and I did not wash them but held them to my face and breathed him in and dreamed he was there again, in my bed – our bed. And there was a smell and it was sweet and sour and salted, and I don’t know how a smell can be salted except that there is the sea and standing on the sand and a single gull soaring like an untethered kite in the salted air above me. They say that seagulls are the souls of the dead; I think they say that. Maybe I misremember but I call to him and the bird wheels over me.
The taste of him I forget, too. And I lick stones and the tops of puddles and the undersides of leaves. And books I lick, the spines and the pages, feel the dry rasp of paper on my tongue. And the bowls of spoons, I lick, too, and bedpost dust and fish eyes. And he is not any of those tastes, but just for a moment, just in the time it takes the taste of blood or sugar or tears to find a name for itself in my head, just for that moment I think I am close and he is close and I do remember – the taste.
But the days stack up like a house of cards and so many days stood tiptoe on days since he touched me or touched anything. And I put a hand to my breast, and hold it, like he did before – he did, I swear it. I hold it till it does not feel that I am. And then I let it go, for it is not his touch nor anything like it. And my breast, untouched, is a failure of memory.
And I hate him and love him and they are feelings that are as close as string that is two strands woven into one. And I say out loud that I hate him and I love him, and I write in the margins of books or scratch it on tabletops, and I forget which is which, remember only that hate and love both hurt now.
Agnes moves slow as days sometimes, and heavy in each step, and she says it’s because she holds onto things and being so on in years she has a lot to hold onto. Like the lovers she’s had, that’s what she says, only she lies when she says ‘lovers’ for there was just the one. And didn’t he take her to the stars and back, like love can do? And coming back down to earth she hit the ground hard and never did recover – her heart or her head.
Years back now, so many that Agnes doesn’t remember everything – though she tries to, holding on, but not holding tight enough; except that she writes things down, small things, when they come to her, writing and writing over the years. And she takes those written upon pages and she tucks them into her underclothes, wearing them, like they are a part of her, the inked words leeching from the paper and under her skin like tattoos.
And though Agnes forgets the taste of him – was it salt and sting and sweet all at the same time – she remember something. And she licks her own palm with the whole of her tongue, and it is near enough she thinks. And his eyes were blue – weren’t they? She wrote that somewhere. Blue as sky when there isn’t anything but sky, or the sea playing over white sand, or ice when it’s never white.
Music she remembers too, not the sound exactly, but that there was music, and she can’t recall when that stopped and when silence came to hurt loud as drums or trumpets or screams. He held her in a dance back then, and held her lightly for there was no need to hold her tight. And her feet skipping after him, feet that are heavy now and she is scared to lift them off the ground. And tip-toe tall she was, tree-tall, and stretching her arms towards the sun or the moon.
But then she thinks she made that up, and she is not sure that she didn’t make him up. Was it a year he stayed, or a moment? And the stars in the night sky, were they once within touching reach? And truth, even when it is written down, is not ever to be trusted. Every day she writes something else, and tucks that paper near to her breast or her heart or her cunt, so she is misshaped, and the paper warm and soft as cloth in time, and all the words bleeding.
And today, the doctor blew air like a hard whistle and all he had was blow and no sound, and he told her in small words that she carried a baby inside, all curled up and tight as a fist. Carrying it still, he said, all these fast and fleeting years later. And she does not understand. It is something that can happen, he says, when things go wrong. And something about calcification, which is a kind of protection – for the mother and for the baby. It is a stone-baby now, he says, and never could be delivered; and doesn’t it make sense, she thinks, of the heavy that she now is and the everything that she holds onto.
Agnes tells the doctor that she does not know the father – leaves him thinking there were lovers like she says there were. Only, there was just the one and when she says she does not know him she means that she cannot now pick out the starry truth from the things she has made up about him.