beside mill wood *

have want exert

Sunlight on the door –
hidden years, a golden sphere –
thoughts of stories no one reads
and a life comprised
of loves in darker places.

All those words, all those everyday sights with their hidden meanings, weighted in the significance we chose so carefully or with such abandon . I still look for them. I still see the world through eyes I think of as yours alone.

I have been seen as beautiful. I have been desired. I have had a way with me. The detached appraisal of a strangers eye is objectifying and exhilarating; to be reduced to the physical brings a carnal simplicity to the world. But now I feel invisible rather than invincible.  Perhaps I am resting or perhaps my day has gone and I am finally in perdue (the romantic notion of fern seeds in my pocket has literally come true). That my appearance should matter affronts my intellect. And yet , I am ashamed of how much I crave the mythology you spun so beautifully about my person. I want back that look in Thomas’s eyes, so full of desire in the pastel room in the Museum D’Orsay, where I was both whore and culprit. I covet the power I once held so gently, so lightly, as I stood before you. I want to see the force of your longing which rendered me powerless and so subtly in control.

We were funambulists you and I, we really did walk that delicious line between the falling and the flying; we were knife-edged and breath-held lovers. Perhaps, above all else, I wonder if it was that tension, that wonderful, tautly wound sexual lunacy which was our downfall ? Such magic, by its very nature is unsustainable. It is greedy, it is insatiable , it is an insane way to exist with all its hungry impatience. Perhaps such a life lived out loud  will finally, inescapably burn itself out.

And yet. In the quiet aftermath I still struggle to contain myself. I am spilled , I am opened, I am raw. It seems I am still a balancing act.

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forget about

Sunlight fills the room. I trace lightly, fingertips barely touching, from nipple to hip to belly and down. With eyes closed it is easy to remember, I will not forget. And yet the silence is tipping into a permanence which seems shocking if inevitable.

And how to fill the gap, the lack, the spilling tumbling exchange of words? Mainly I have swapped the (w)hole that was you, for breath and movement and thought. It’s a fitting substitution for one who was (is) so light, so gracious, so recondite.

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elective affinities

He held a short cut –
A hidden code to my sex
Where just one small word
Could unfurl time and let loose
This rare and perverse nature.

 

Magdelene practises mindfulness with cock in her mouth. The sun is intense on her back flooding her body with heat, her knees push into the the small white stones on the beach, she looks from cock to ocean. Her tongue explores and she is a sponge to taste, to light, to heat, to pleasure. The thrust of his hips merges with the push of the waves and the pump of her heart. Everything is held in this moment, the rush of heat, the brilliant searing blue of the sky , the hot salted breeze at her cheek. Out of neccessity life has become a series of moments. She has swapped the shortcuts of a language she had created and has stepped inside the present.

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the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking out new landscapes but in having new eyes

My tongue is tied, my hands are preoccupied with manual labour, with asanas – no pen has been held, no keys have been tapped. I wonder what Magdalene would do. She would look me in the eye and laugh in my face. She would rejoice in the hidden soft flesh between her thighs and smile at the burst of colour all around her. In quiet mornings the damp grass would stiffen her toes and she would wait for the sun. Her actions would be an affirmation of everything that is pleasureable, she would thrill at life.

The garden is beautiful right now. Lilac, hawthorn, laburnum. The larkspur is bright green and still waiting for its flowers, the peonies are so top heavy and full they look drunk. There are buds, shoots, tendrils – the eager rush to grow and flourish is everywhere. But I am leaving this abundance for hotter, drier climes. To a place where I feel both at home and detatched. Here the skies will be a never ending blue and at night the stars really are golden. The cyprus trees twist into the light and every day I will take to the sea and become more and more feral. My skin will change colour with the sun and my hair will curl and tangle with the waves.

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Rhodessa holds my hand. Her skin is cool and paper thin. Her body is frail and very still but her eyes are gentle and her smile is light and open.

Σας ευχαριστώ, σας ευχαριστώ για τη θαυμάσια φιλοξενία.

It always helps to know how to thank your host. She hands me a green silk ribbon for my hair and gestures for me to tie it back. Even in the shade the air is close. We eat meatballs and salad on the veranda, the water is ice cold, the wine is warm and the light dapples through the vine overhead.

She is pleased we will be neighbours and I am hungry to clear the little plot beside her own. To dig and plant, to scrub and paint. Already I am imagining a hammock and a small veranda, terracotta pots of herbs and the thick sweet thrum of night scented jasmine. Of swapping life beside the mill wood for a life soaked with thyme and sunlight and skin warmed and salted from the sea.

Khalepà tà kalá.

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in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions

In the absence of any signs of life I must write to imagine, to create, to spill out my wonder- ings. There are no words from him. Nothing . Anywhere. And it is understandable. I trampled on his heart and cut out his tongue with my own retreat. And yet the sun still shines and the moon still grows fat in her black bed and the summer is still a long time in coming. The peonies are tight balls of promise. The wisteria is dry and undernourished. I walk the garden and correlate my body parts to plants and trees and earth. Heart like the wisteria. Limbs like the fresh green grass. Lips like the peonies. Fingernails like the earth. Hair like the tangle of brambles running by the stream. If only I could take this fancy one step further and feel no difference between the end of me and the start of everything else. But the world is still Other and Other must be dealt with. And on some days it is a calm and beautiful otherness, one of clear skies and things working out just fine. One of herons above the mill pond and laughter in the kitchen. And then , imperceptibly, without a hint or a reason or a because, the light shifts slightly and the wind changes and the mood tilts downwards. Towards the black and the empty and the unfathomable and the tears come unbidden and there are no answers. Just silence amidst the growing and the pushing and the never ending reach for life.

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D is for divine

Despite her ineptitude and lack of talent, Magdelene wants to craft something so beautiful. For thanks, for forgiveness, for memory, for imagination. Something as beautiful as the boy atop a five bar gate carving out his love. In simple initials beset with acorns and oak leaves and the curlicues of innocence. As elegant as the finest egg. As tender and as grotesque as the pink featherless bird in the palm of a hand. She wants to show and write of  vulnerability and revulsion bound in seconds. She thinks of them all. All those needy men. She remembers in the close hot box room looking out at the sky and the fields and the faraway feel of stolen afternoons. She thinks of him. He stands alone inside the topmost chamber of her wicked dirty heart. In that thick breathed slick way. Everything seems weighted and with her bold eyes and her legs apart she sees him smiling as ever, smiling despite of.

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he said she said , fire for fire

I don’t want calm and calculated approval. I don’t want a steady appraisal fair and true. That is not what I’m about. I write to forget myself. I write to become something other. I write to be aware and to feel alive. I write when I am not writing.  When I see the saddened eyes of the man who crosses the street next to me or catch the smokey scent of the young girl with black hair on the edge of the park or feel the sting of the wind whipping my face when I walk up Wards Bank, I want to create it again in words. I want to play God and imagine everything. Spread me out, pull me apart,  I care that much. Because restraint is the surest way to kill love.

sweets from a stranger and other strange tales

She knew little about the facts of him, his place of work or birth and really, that was of no consequence. It was another kind of connection, one that defied bodies and age and position in the great steaming hierarchy of humanity. It was fun and magic, a penny in the slot madness, a helterskelter of code and dreams. It fitted into what they needed in a particular time and place and after they met the illusion was shattered and they walked away ; there was nothing more to say other than it had been golden and good, and that the size and weight of him in her memory was enough.

 

Something of the duplicity and the relativity and the merely fleeting quality of all this

If I hold onto his arm tight enough, pull it close enough, close enough and hard enough to feel the bones below the skin, to dig my fingers and feel tendon and muscle beneath, perhaps then I will be saved. I grip his arm close about me, pull it hard against my breast, I imagine un zipping his flesh and climbing in, but wherever I go, the hole is too deep and there is no light. I shut my eyes and only then do I feel the hot tears against my cheeks. I put my fingers to my mouth and only then do I feel the salty film on my top lip. Lets get up now he says.  A few more minutes I whisper and pull his arm tighter and bend my legs to my chest closer, just a few more minutes. I think about the day ahead and can’t imagine myself in it. I want to stay here naked and unseen, the day will not fit me and his arms will not save me. Salvation is an illusion, I am done with coming up for air, done with the mad search for redemption.

And then later, alone and on top of the moors, I am lighter. The air and the space flings me open. It is a loose and easy pleasure. Looking down the valley, everything is small, insignificant – the houses clinging to the edge of the fields, the cars like bright metal beads strung on dark threads of road. Only the sky is enormous and in one dazzling breath it puts me in my place.

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an epistolary ambulance

No stone was ever left unturned. Even the glass pebble beach was a study in romance , a carefully executed plan right down to the tide times and the setting sun. And now. And now she would never be on the receiving end of such intimate consideration. Life would be a rough series of semi planned events, there would be no devil in the detail. It was painful to realise how much she would miss those micro moments when the air suddenly became thicker, when time drew down, when she simply was – body, skin, desire.

As ever, she veered between supreme caution and wild abandon. Should she send him, beg for an epistolary ambulance or sit through the pain, the lack ?

The irony did not escape her. This jagged, clumsy attempt to live one full life, out in the open, without duplicity was doomed to failure. Her inner world had begun long before she was even conscious of her conscience.

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lost gander

stories & texts by s. d. stewart

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