By Candice Louisa Daquin
Usually, it was a time for introspection and loneliness.
Her ex-boyfriend from years ago would write across the static wires enquiring after her in a solicitous way, which bespoke of his own alienation more than his feelings for her. He was always an empty cup; her friends would remind her. Chipped and cold.
Thank the Gods, she’d left him, just as she left her homeland and flung herself out there into the universe to be made anew. She didn’t want to take ghosts with her, she wanted to leave them in their glass cases to gather dust and be forgotten.
Wherever you go, there you are.
Every New Year she thought of the past. The ghosts of who we were hovered. She wasn’t part of then and she wasn’t part of now. Somewhere in between. Something recreated and lost. She didn’t have a sure footing.
A New Year exposed all her uneven seams. The light got through but so did the dark. She thought of swapping them. Darkness would be her friend. Light, her anathema. But that didn’t work either. We need light to grow.
Maybe she needed darkness just as much. Maybe like the weed on the side of the street where people walked by unnoticing, every single day, maybe that weed thrived as much when the lights went out as it did in the hot sun.
Boy! Did she know about the hot sun? Moving to the desert, she watched the arroyo against the orange setting of the sun — life held its breath until light blurred behind the mountain top. She learned from that. Learned to walk on scalding sand without shoes and to survive without needing to drink … even as she was made of water.
Her boyfriend and her child, they were petrographs on red walls lost to dust storms. He moved on as he stayed still. She moved on as she was lost in a blur of motion. Even as she slept, her legs fidgeted with the longing to run on wet highways until the tarmac was replaced by dust. Her feet were bigger than the rest of her, as if they were just waiting for her to catch up.
The child didn’t even know about her. Maybe that’s why New Years were hard. Another year, another year without… not a death but a life. Somewhere in the world a part of her. Would her son prefer the sun or the dark like her? Would his eyes be coloured like hers or his father’s? Would he speak French or Arabic or …? Would he say nothing at all? And watch the clouds turn black and heavy with rain that never ever came.
He was a mirage to her, something seen in her peripheral. She worked all day like an ant, climbing, climbing, climbing and all the while it didn’t drown a bit of her need out of her. Just a swollen rag inside her chest replacing her charred heart, containing all the water she no longer needed. For she was made of water and she was without ancestors.
Her lovers were ochre and onyx, they held her as if she were made of pins and stars, they turned her when she grew lethargic, they tried to feed her but she remained starving, staring at the sky and its great reach of emptiness. Sometimes it felt as if that emptiness had been poured inside of her like a Long Island tea and turned to tannin and bitter root, not refreshing at all.
She dreamed of the sea. In her dream, the sea was land and land was water and she walked on hot air through the rising waves until she spied him and he ran to her, impossibly, impossibly, yet he did.
Every New Year she recalled his birth, the way he split her open like a song and they tied her back together with strings of sorrow. She played them with a crooked bow and lied about her age, because she wasn’t so old as to have forgotten, she wasn’t too old to have lost the smell of him. She just said those things so they would not ask anything else. Not one more word.
She was younger and she was covered with scars as silver as the night sky crossed with waves and his eyes were always watching in January because that was when he cried for the first time and she heard his howl across the silence and it broken everything in her that had been fractured but not yet crushed. His sound was her release. She played it over and over again until she didn’t know what she was listening to anymore.
The room was quiet, she sat alone on the expensive sofa and stared at the garden, fruiting with abundance despite the month. There is no frost except in my heart. She tasted salt on her lips and her hands clenched into fists beneath her skirts. Her stomach ached like it always did, seeking, seeking, seeking.
The doorbell rang. It might have been a food delivery. It could be flowers from a lover. A carol singer, although they don’t come around in this part of the world. She opened her mouth to say thank you but no thank you, and her mouth forms a perfect ‘O’ as the door let in the light and his silhouette.
How did she know? How did she know?
Their embrace began before they moved, each rooted to the spot in awkwardness, the stretch of years and unsaid things lying like drying guts in the sun. Her rows of flowers, bloomed to be reflected in his dark eyes. Her son.
When she looked down at her hands, there were rings on every finger, no marriage, no need. When she tucked her dry breasts into her brassiere, she felt the pinch of wanting to feed the grasping mouth of an infant. When she felt herself growing roots that defied time and place, she wanted to reach back into his crib, his making, his calcium.
A year later, they walked hand in hand. She was young enough — people weren’t sure. Was she, his mother? His lover? A pretty aunt? His back is straight like a determined waterfall. He’s inherited her thick hair and light gait. They are black swans on water, that mirrors the glitter of their glide as they reach the center of the lotus.
She has a puce birthmark on her breast. He holds her to him and water envelopes them both. She is shouting now, out loud, people are running, machines are bleeping, the crimson bed is losing focus.
She wondered what kind of voice he would have and how he would eat his dinner? With one hand gracefully holding a fork or would he become salt and shift like dancers’ feet through time?
New Year had always been hard but this year she would gather her skirts and bring together her ankles, still nimble and untouched by tears, and whirling around like a firefly raptured by light, find the pockets of heat still playing on the floor before night fall, where he would wait for her, a favourite solace.
Usually, it was a time for introspection and loneliness.
Now they remark at the young woman with prematurely grey hair, stretching down her back like a feral cry, and the bloom of her flowering skirts, edging her effort to be the first winter bird to turn homeward, where familiar things lay, like cast baubles in snow, to be dusted off and hung, beautiful and glittering.
Candice Louisa Daquin is a Psychotherapist and Editor, having worked in Europe, Canada and the USA. Daquins own work is also published widely, she has written five books of poetry, the last published by Finishing Line Press called Pinch the Lock. Her website is www thefeatheredsleep.com
PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.