Updated: Sep 13, 2021
In the darkroom
The monobath stains our lips a bitter blue
an impression of a field I’ll never see again-your wide eyes develop right in front of me.
And this is how we found love:
£3 wine in a screw-top bottle and an afternoon tucked away. Me, lilac-haired and jejune,
ghost bleached by exposure
and the race for your heart.
An outline of hands dripping in borrowed light,
buttercups bent backward over grass,
plans conceived in intimacy:
together, we would help the dandelion seeds spread,
as if our puffs of breath alone could have birthed a generation,
as though our mouths were not already pressed together between pale sips.
My skin pricks as I agitate the tank, rinse off
the developer. Your eyes are clouded with silver halide; I dip your gaze into bleach-flix.
smack dab in the pit of May.
I dream of
sky caught between shades of pink heat
and Foster’s cans,
alongside a thin plastic punnet of cherries,
you, eating their flesh to the stone,
then making a gun of your mouth,
my mouth silly under the crown of mindless yellow heat, sticky with peach-scented lip gloss.
And it felt like whole summers went like that,
on the fire escapes of strange pubs between sets
wearing bare legs
looking down on streets all cigarettes and lip.
Now, we touch each other and prove that we’re still here.
My bed sores formed like braille
a cipher, confessing that this creature was once me.
Rose water pools on windowsill,
an inside paradise of uninspiring prayers.
I close my eyes and wait
for shades of pink from the bright summer sky,
to shine red phosphene inside my eyelids.
…a Reiki reader turns my hand amongst the cycle of a club crowd and tells me I have the oldest soul she’s ever known. Retrospect of lust and blazing lives flashes in my eyes like it does not matter who I have touched before.
I take off what adorns me, I romanticise the moment my head slips under the bathwater. Turning myself over until I am not my bare body but my grandmother, lying among mountains, life and death straddled in the river as she accepts that she has cheated death for the final time. She slips away, back into particles and water, as I wash my face and emerge from dream to watery reflections and low yellow moon.
I learn that I cannot always tell dreams from reality, I am awake in both. My histories, glitzy alternatives, sunset shining down on all I own, in the life I never had. I look into the reflections in this window, mistake it for skin—my fingertips try to touch my face—but my features are unfaithful. This manifests like a mantra: Here. I am here.
I awake rheumy-eyed and Mancunian to see the dim light and morning outline of you, a soul split into pieces (I think about smashing ice into whisky, but my grandmother never drank). I remember how Grandma had the Sight, how she peered into tea leaves. I clutch a lump of amethyst and feel the warmth that takes me here. It glows like the way dusk gleams in dark rivers across the city. As I look for my face the river quivers with water lilies, blooming with the hand of my elders…
If time is ‘a meaning that we impose upon motion’
how long have I been watching the shaking of dust?
opens to the back of beyond,
with meadows, purpled like Blaukraut.
A sky, blaring neo-psych
fields full of my house plants—Calathea Networks, with chloroplasts dividing like a Klimt painting. Memories of friends, eating Chow Mein on the floor,
tidal waves of noodles, a lavish palette... a world textured by different kinds of ‘time’.
Images of myself, sometimes with pink hair, sometimes red,
resin rings, jelly nails, green eyeshadow, butterfly clips, tooth gem—
Sweet and hungry for something she can’t name—
hiding in her own estuaries ... sandbanks of golden sugar,
red dunes crumbling under wet feet, above hangs the peeled pomelo, sucked to the navel of the
Somewhere liminal, images of pink-haired girls,
loosen jaws, hungry for a redshift world.
(After A. Van Jordan)
1. 'In, at or to this position or place’
Eg // I have lived here my whole life. Here is where I learned to be lost but present. I look through the skylight: my back is pressed into generations of suburban houses, I’m jealous of the sky, how it can hold everything in a layer that floats over here. ‘Oh! She was here a moment ago’. Now I’m chasing the ice-cream man for answers, who tells me ‘It never happens for people like us, from here’. People wonder why they can’t get to sleep here; do they not realise that their bodies are threatening to disappear? ‘Just help me get the necklace off!’ Grandma said as I unlatched the opal beads from around her, a cluster of moles glowing here on her slender neck, constellations falling in a drizzle of golden syrup. She placed the beads right here on my neck like inherited torment.
2. ‘To attract someone’s attention’
Eg // Come here. It was the year of the tiger, and acne revealed its fiery colours on my cheeks with a bumpy persistence that proved it was here to stay. I tacked a Joy Division poster here over my bed, and developed bleached hair and kohl eyes to clash with the opal chained around my neck. We meet here at midnight. ‘Here’, you say as you passed a single scavenged cigarette between a dozen mouths. There are things we could only say here in the dark, as we swarmed to stolen blue-bins to set the insides alight and shoot green BB gun pellets into the night, as if we could tear a hole wide enough to suck us away from here... No moon tonight, its lustre is here, trapped in the opal beads that drag on my chest. It hurts here.
3. ‘Used when introducing something or someone’
Eg // Here’s the promise I said I’d lend you; there, there, there; it drags from the lips, a mantra. As long as I live here, I sit in every fragment of my past. Here lie the beads, if they drag me down, I will live and die here, in this town.