My heart will never be ready for this

Tape recorder

I borrowed a tape recorder today to interview an 80-year-old man. He is Hans Hillmann, German post-war designer, and he lives in Frankfurt. I had to charge the recorder on my laptop and I listened to all the strange sounds on it that dated back to 2011, even 2010 - people’s shoes going crunch crunch crunch across gravel, a man’s voice softly rumbling in Portuguese, wheels speeding by on a highway. Funny how these aural elements are still instantly recognisable when they become detached from other stimuli.

I want to lie in the darkness plugged in to this small rectangular object and press erase. I want to listen to static, the sound of canny discomfort. I want to need nothing but a pocked-sized grey recorder that reduces everything human about the world into trembling lines across the screen. I want so badly to punish myself for being me. 


We leapt, willing mice into the waiting dark

python wrapping its merciful coolness

around our gleaming ribs. I could see my arms

run like ink into shadow. The Egyptians believed

that night and day were the cyclical birth and death

of Ra. The sun god, riding his flaming chariot

mortal at the end of the horizon. Here we are

at the hour of godlessness, where even

those beyond ourselves cannot strike a match

so we may see each other. I look into night

and see jet black, white nothing coloured to

black nothing, sky without stars, day without pretension

the false Messiah revealed. I look into night

and see what the gods cannot.

A space shuttle launching from my fingertips

would never reach you in our lifetimes.

The Professional Mourner

Who have I become, monster

of decaying flesh, belly swollen

with the poison of the stillest waters?

I drift in the wake of your smell.

This is the smell that you pay me with, redolent

of easy contentment, different roses 

in the vase every week. You do not see

the slowness of ebbing life, doused in

the sweetness of the great unknown and set aflame.

Pay me with the kindness of a pitying stranger

for keeping my station in life, grieving for those

who distance themselves from grief, swallowing

the untouchable dregs of the heart. Pay me with

your thoughtless love, and let me leave you

whole, wet and new like a child

emerging from one sea to plunge in another.

Jealousy II (1907), Edvard Munch
Oil on canvas, 85 x 58 cm
Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway
Jealousy II (1907), Edvard Munch
Oil on canvas, 85 x 58 cm
Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway

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