Acacia

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Regret, I heard her say, comes at the expense of enjoyment.

There is an uncanny silence and a recalcitrant disappointment which remains unseen and hidden behind a shame I consider myself privileged to feel.

The weirdest feeling in the world is putting yourself in front of a camera and speaking self-consciously about no one but yourself, as if the words you utter echo with a universal verity hidden above the clouds. This weird feeling causes a rupture in the self-reflexive self and from within the open shell, clad with flesh and skin, climbs Acacia. Flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood. Yet she can’t claim freedom; my words will not redeem her. My flesh burdens hers with my encrypted words; my blood taints hers with my heavy heart beat. She sprouts in May from a desert-like dryness, embodying an unquenchable thirst amongst the Ténéré region of the Sahara.

The Tree of Ténéré, Acacia; my best friend. I commit myself to rupture with this declaration. Acacia will die as a condition of my writing. My best friend, this is a promise I’ve made from the very first sentence, when I decided that I’ll sacrifice your life unto fiction. All friendships begin with the possibility of survival. “Surviving—That is the other name of a mourning whose possibility is never to be awaited.” Jacques Derrida.

Acacia, she lived among many others, learning from them and befouling them. Nevertheless, it was a communal feeling which made her feel as part of a whole, invincible, purposeful and grandiose. How blameless and shameless time passed. She was as uncomplicated as a child, and I watched this tenderness grow with drunken yet unquestionable eyes. But all things come to pass.

Acacia, you were neither good nor bad. You were divine.

Did not the child grow? Deceit and envy filled her and she became like a jealous God. Condemned to the black violence of the Sun, she cried to her unbearable mother for help. The nails of the sun taught her of the monstrosity of the cyclopean eye of God.

In my head, all my stories start with the conjunction “and”. And Acacia looked at her uncle in such bedazzlement; a nine year old child in awe of being in the penumbra of uncle Arb. And when they were alone he’d tell her, straightforwardly, “don’t grow tall like me, spread wide beneath me, go beyond me. There is nothing beyond the sky except the sun. Keep the sun at a safe distance.” But what can a nine-year old understand from this except everything uncle Arb did not mean. So she kept herself under his shoulder whenever she could and tried to dance around and between his feet. She danced like ripples around a centre, her hands joined her uncle’s and unaware to his direction, she was led to the periphery. Decentred roots travelled in all directions, but avoided the sun. She danced like ripples with eyes closed, the inertia created by her uncle Arb led her on. She danced like ripples until she could dance no more. She danced like ripples until she felt the bottom with her saltatory taproot.

Great Bermuda. Acacia opened her eyes and looked upon the Ténéré; the landscape forced her to close them again completely. She witnessed a vast nothingness and the horror of dancing with eyes closed. All was gone and she was left alone; no more tall trees to compete with for uncle Arb’s hand. Dunes of sand enveloped her. She was no longer in the penumbra of her uncle but under the direct gaze of the sun. And did not the child grow to an aloneness disguised as independence?

The Ténéré became a space for herself and she occupied it with a lonesome stillness which filled the Sahara with trepidation. Acacia closed her eyes and created another world through the imagination of the sublime confronted by no limit. She closed her eyes and imagined a studio with red walls, a staircase leading to a tight low-ceiling bedroom. Beneath the bedroom, a bathroom stood opposite a kitchen, a refrigerator and a microwave cramped next to a sink. She hung paintings on the walls and adorned the balcony door with thin velvet curtains. And on she lived, with imaginary friends and imaginary conversations; she wrapped herself in the night time of shut eyelids and made of herself a God, indifferent to circumstance. It was not good and not bad; her imagination was sublime. Her aloneness was no longer a sickness, but an opportunity, a door.

But every once in a while, she’d scratch the bottom with her taproot with an immense hatred for life. The bottom reminded her that her tragedy will soon know completion under the real sun.

And I joyfully watched her closed eyes and kept silent. I was alarmingly close, but subtle, accepting of everything. I was every grain of sand upon a dune sculpted by zephyrs. And I thought I was safeguarding her freedom with my mute and cautious drifting; And I thought I was maintaining equilibrium as I stood behind velvet curtains and imaginary doors, stalking, listening and gazing on eyes closed shut. And…And…And…

…she opened her eyes; she had to. Stability is inevitably short-lived, as unreal as the illusion of my clear conscience. I sat on the edge of the bed as a clash of substance in the middle of nothingness knocked her down to the ground and derooted her: a chance-fuelled event of rupture.

She opened her eyes. Regret, I heard her say, comes at the expense of enjoyment.

[Excuse the anthropomorphism.]

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Sober

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“Overwhelmed as one would be, placed in my position.
Such a heavy burden now to be the One
Born to bear and bring to all the details of our ending,
To write it down for all the world to see.”
Rosetta Stoned

“Why can’t we not be sober?
I just want to start this over.
Why can’t we drink forever.
I just want to start things over.”
Sober

The ability to survive lies in the potential of creating a future in a lie.

I am old. I work seven days a week until the late hours of vampiric nights. I am Atlas but with sunken muscles and a blanket over my bones that hangs loosely, acid bubbles burning holes through it, tired tears seeping from it. The sky falls, long shadows dawning on sober faces and desperate gazes.

My wife Evelyn, back when I first married her, used to greet me in bed after a long day’s work. She’d tell me “my name means rebirth, so here, tonight, I kill you, and you get born again in the morning.” And that promised legend became a reality and a curse.

My wife Evelyn didn’t know that during the day I didn’t daydream about her.

My wife Evelyn never knew that I never dreamed about her, that when her hand touched me, it wasn’t her caress that I yearned for. But I was faithful, and for all that time, I held the sky above me and above her.

But such selfless blindness does not deserve a story.

My wife Evelyn, she sees a boy on the streets, through the windowpane, breaking a girl’s heart and blames the whole male sex for a heartbroken world. A boy becomes the boy.

“Leave him alone, he’s just trying to give himself meaning,” I tell her.

“Give meaning? By hurting that poor girls like her?” her eyes never leave the girl who’s stone-still on the sidewalk. As if that girl needs stares from a weathered woman with creepy eyes, glaring through a windowpane with inevitable disappointment; that old eagle-eye glare every generation gets from its elders, disappointment, awe, dismay. “If he has any sense of decency, he’ll come back to her and hold her hand, whisper in her ear, walk her home, anything. It’s not right to leave a girl like that on the street. If he has any dignity, any love, he’ll come back, just like you came back to me.” Her words, like shovels desecrating a grave in which the flesh of a corpse is yet to decompose.

“We all feed on tragedy,” I mumble, collapsing all the vowels on each other.

“Boys these days, they’re all corrupt,” the girl on the street is still stupefied under Evelyn’s gaze. “What is she to do now?”

“At least it’s not raining,” I cynically remark.

“I would’ve made you go invite her in if she had been crying under the rain.”

“You don’t even know if she’s been crying. Anyway, how would it seem if an old grumpy-looking, pathetically wrinkled old man had approached a young girl like her and invited her to his house? People don’t appreciate the same gestures anymore. Whatever I did twenty-seven years ago, I certainly would not have done today if I were that boy and you were this girl.”

“What is that supposed to mean? Do you regret coming back to me?”

“I think after twenty-seven years, it’s irrelevant whether or not I regret it. And, remember, you came back for me.” Wrong words make the wrong bells toll; wrong words make us travel in time to that evening when she came back to me.

She had come at the right moment, but she never knew it. She thought I had always been waiting for her to come back, a true heartbroken soul. She could have survived if she had not found me, and I knew it. She left me to prove something, and she failed.

“Look,” I say, moving towards the window pane, “she is not you, and will never be you. The boy is not me and will never be me. These are different circumstances and different times. If you want to know what I think, I’ll tell you. I’ll say it straight up, because it sure is more realistic then your nostalgic projection.”

Somehow she found me walking back home; street-lights were not lit and the few cars that passed by rendered the darkness around us visible, like a momentary flash of lightning that only exacerbates the intensity of night. We both saw familiar contours. She hugged me like a child reaching out to its parent, wanting to be picked up, supported. That embrace showed a crack, a crevice. And ever since, I’ve been finding a future in this lack.

I put my hand on her shoulder and speak calmly; there’s no need for conviction in my voice. Somehow she’ll know it’s true. Somehow she’ll know that she’s lived it. “This boy here has probably left this girl for another. Another girl he may not love as he loves this one in front of us. But the other girl, he needs her. The other girl, she needs him. And that works. But we’re just observers, trying to be omniscient of what is only seen, not even heard. The distance between us and the crying girl is an immense gap. We just know our stories. I just know mine. If I keep myself in that gap between her and me, I might fade like a sigh, nostalgic, barely moving, insignificant and inconclusive.”

She looks at me barely satisfied with my possibly-heartrending words. And I hug her even though I’m not sure she wants this. I feel the lack and know that because of it, me and her, we’re more than just the sum of our parts.

I grab Evelyn’s hand and we walk together to bed. I am old, but I am sober and it will be a good night.

So good to see you once again
I thought that you were hiding from me.
And you thought that I had run away.
Chasing a trail of smoke and reason.
Third eye

Inanna_1_by_GeirrodVanDyke

It

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“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Nietzsche

I never thought I’d be an inept Father. 

Regret by kristelven

 

I hit him today with a slapstick whip. Each hit echoes as the second wooden board comes crashing on the first. He made not a sound, not a whimper. He made them with enormous amounts of energy, I could see it in the way his muscles tightened and his eyes closed. 

I never thought I’d be like my Father. 

He’d look me down with an inspiring look of dread. You had to love that dreadful look. When you fear something so much, you respect it. With his belt, he’d spare me not, no matter how much I crawled away from him, no matter how much I rolled over like a deceasing body falling down a hill. With his hands, he’d try to rip me apart, starting from my ear, moving to my cheeks, to my stomach; he’d stretch my skin beyond any endurable measure. 

How did things end up this way? Is it my fault? He hit his son; I hit mine. 

My wife weeps after what happened tonight. She weeps the tears that my son cannot shed. As if it is she who I have hit. How could I have done this? 

This is your fault,” my conscience, a woman, speaks from within. “None but your own fault.” 

From the dark crevice of my mind, she speaks, even though it’s too late now. I remember the time when I hit that woman, when she was only a girl, hoping to grow up and blossom on her own, while enjoying the fruits of youth. I remember how I hit her and with that hit, I blew away her essence, pushed her down into oblivion, shoved her until she fell into the gap. 

Regret by virtud

 

..and now I jump after her. 

I remember when my father’s loud screams were contrasted by my mute rebellion. I remember when my father’s stinging hits were contrasted by my acceptance of them as if they were injections of a favoured drug. 

I remember when she extended her hand to me in the bright light of day, when everything was clear, but I, under the influence, rejected what could have been my way out. But I put her; I put myself somewhere I never really wanted to be in. 

My acts of rebellion were false, passive and uninspired. 

When you fear something so much, you teach yourself how to respect it. And when you respect it, you imitate it. And when you imitate it, you become it. I shoved her and pushed her, and I lost myself with every shove and push. She fell down the abyss and all this time, she has been buried deep. When you become it, you hardly know what’s good anymore. Your whole life becomes a swoon because of your failed revolution. You lose touch of everything that defined you, and submissively, you lose any shard of subjective individuality. You’re it. 

…and I became it. I became my Father. Like many people do become only an image of an authority figure. But no excuses. We’re all wrong. To feel alive, I act like it

My conscience, the sweet little girl who I have forsaken, tells me that it’s all my fault. “You gave him imaginary authority. You allowed him to do this to you. You have a responsibility to yourself, to me, which you forgot and left behind.” 

Tragic wakes. Who I was long ago is no different from what my son was. 

Was. Past tense. 

The slapstick whip is still in sight. My weeping wife is within hearing distance. With my other three senses, I smell my son who’s lying on the bed, motionless; I smell the odour of an empty clay jar; I taste… 

There’s no love in this. There is no love in fear. But he had no other way. Our whole life now will dance upon his act like corks upon the tides of grief. 

My son, lived like a martyr, died like suicide. 

Waning In My Own Light by SelfRecyclable

Memory & Forgetfulness

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Departure:

I have my bag packed. I can hear the shower water pouring, accumulating in the bath tub. I look at the empty apartment. The vacant couch, the piles of books towering half way to the ceiling, the temple of CDs and DVDs. These objects don’t make me want to remember the past week. These objects are not laden with the traffic of memories. They hold nothing. They are just a bundle without a substance.

The sound of pouring water stops. I know I cannot leave without saying goodbye to the only person I’ve seen for a week. I wait for her to come out but she never does, as if she paused time when she closed the faucet. As I stand outside the bathroom door, for the first time in a week I feel like a stranger in this apartment, in her home. It is not a place I belong to. I entered this place so full of hope. I thought that the road had finally gotten me home after prolonged seasons of winter in which nature was painted with different shades of the dullest grey. But it was a spark of euphoria; now time has halted for me to make the decision, to choose if I want to step back onto that ragged stale road of constant wandering; that road of loss and confusion; that road without identity which I loathe.

The silence in the bathroom becomes the silence of still-time, and I become afraid of her stillness; deathlike silence reigns. The knob does not screech as I turn it. The door does not squeak as I open it.

Vapour. Haze.  Steam rises from the hot water in the bathtub and sheathes the mirrors and the walls with blurry droplets. I do not enter, but I can see her lying, floating on the surface of the water in the bathtub. Her body is still and her breasts emerge like waves caught in a photograph. Her hair sticks to her body like leeches sucking off the rotten blood flowing in her veins. But she’d have to be drained completely if she hopes of being toxin-free, to be saved. Her eyes are closed, giving her the solemn image of a statue, battling time and winning eternity.

The still thought-image which she projects forces me to put down my bag and go to her. I walk into the sauna-like bathroom. Time is still paused; my moving body collides with the droplets. It seems as though I have dug my way with perseverance to get to her sober statue. I raise her head with my hand and I remove the leeches off of her body. She opens her eyes and I remember one week ago, the abominations we committed to fuel the fiery desire we shared for each other. I see the beginning through her eyes, and I sense no regret. Her wide black eyes give me comfort in their serene depths. I feel like a key that has found its door, a narrator that has found his voice. It’s all in the depth of her eyes in which I drown, and while drowning in her eyes she speaks to me; she tells me all I need to know, and I see all I need to see: moments not intended for me.

I stand up and leave her still body. I leave her as a still-image imprinted in my mind. A memory seeking continuity, an image seeking movement.

***

Return

Returning from a long absence, this alien world feels like a museum. I walk with fearful eyes through its halls and I stare at the portraits which look very familiar. It is the familiarity which frightens me. I left a vibrant city and have now returned to an unchanged city, a city of the dead, and I search for her, the one who I intentionally left as a still-image. I return to give her continuity and movement.

I make my way through the proverbial streets. People dress the same; people act the same, as if they had no tomorrow. The daunting reality of sameness wraps itself around me. My wandering is transformed into a fall. A heaviness pushes me down, but I persevere and channel my way through the immutable roads of this city. This is no labyrinth. I know where she is.

I revisit the image in my mind. I see her in the bathtub, her hair like leeches. I remove the leeches and graze my fingers on her flesh as if my fingers were magic limbs which close lacerations. Her breasts stand like still waves splashing on a shore. I let my hands surf on the waves and they reach the shore, the rough rug of sand which was my home.

I find myself at the door of her apartment.

I knock and the door opens. It does not screech. I step inside, the water is pouring down. Steam comes out of the bathroom and my desire is indelible. Relaxed, I step in the bathroom. I see her through the semi-transparent wall of steam, sitting in the bathtub, her head between her legs, and her arms trying to wrap themselves around her; she is in front of me now as she was when I left.

The water stops flowing; a bell tolls and time stops. Nothing moves anymore. The past is fixed and I find myself trapped in what my memory wants me to see. I find myself trapped in the past.

I left her as an image so that she could persist in my memory. When I left, I killed her. I froze her in time and did not allow her to move on, and now I’m faced with the conundrum of memory and forgetfulness. If I allow forgetfulness to creep through, I will seize to know her; she would become someone different; she would become a stranger. If I allow memory to persist, she’ll be unreal and as dead as a monument, as dead as the city which I have passed through.

I try to step forward. I cannot.

I try to back away. I cannot.

A decision has to be made. To forget and lose all, or to remember and wallow in decayed grave.

The distance between me and her hurts me, but I cannot stop staring. I have no idea how she’ll feel if I allow myself a tinge of forgetfulness. I have no idea how this still-image would move. Will she laugh and break the heaviness of my absence? Or will she move around in circles like a prey around its predator, examining and waiting to strike with guilt.

The answer is within reach and it’s a choice I’ve made a long time ago, before I left, when she whispered in my ear. She told me about a moment not intended for me, a moment not in my memory, a moment I am promised to witness upon my return.

The still image changes. She changes; her eyes brighten up; she shines and she looks at me. These eyes, they utter the truth in silence; art knows more than the mind can ever know for truth is found in the hidden places which art draws. The silent moving-image speaks: It is not okay to remember the way you did. I am alive. You left me with emptiness which did not allow me to laugh. The theatre of absence leaves us all wondering about our failing existence. You isolated me like a single frame of a long film. Your froze me in time and did not allow me to grow. And you thought you knew me. You left me without laughter and melancholy camped over me, and this city drained me with its stillness which you incurred.

I blush. I’m out of words.  She frightens me with her sudden strength, her sudden life, her sudden sublime beauty. Such beauty can only be reciprocated by a miracle which I cannot give. That moment which was not intended for me; her movement after stillness was that of a strike of guilt. I have returned to a city of the dead, but I do not know her anymore. She has changed. I never knew her. I have changed.

I turn my back on her and on the distance, hoping that the other end is closer.

My travelling lost me my only home.