Don’t misunderstand, it’s not camouflage, not by far. Chimerical certainly but not sinister or supernatural. Shapeshifter, they call her, but the form is firm, it’s just her visage that shifts to rearrange and exhibit, in elegant honesty, a response to the moment. Such chameleonic skin, ever shifting in a silken rainbow spectrum, is more pure in flux than some solid substances. A diamond matrix with flex and facet, displaying prismatic refraction coupled with incorporation, manifesting minute to minute in minute molecular metamorphosis, a Mandelbrot make up of indefatigable opulence. Neither magic nor myth, she flaunts these truths as flesh.
Explaining romance to Caleb is like teaching algebra to bricks, though you can at least build something with the bricks when you’re done, I don’t expect anything less than a mere scientific shrug. ‘It’s just biochemistry,’ he says. ‘I could plot it on a graph for you.’ You don’t have all the data, I say, testing a hypothesis. ‘And you’re not objective,’ he tells me, ‘so, to which bias do we skew?’ I want to shake him and scream, some things just can’t be measured. How about we call it spooky action at a distance with a sensual slant?
I took up my chisel and spent decades learning to sculpt. I watched masters and amateurs, stopped and started, erred and marvelled, sometimes channeling the divine and sometimes chipping it astray. Often, I would simply look at the flecks of my efforts strewn to the ground. Often, I would cry for these scrapped carvings, wondering if my work would ever be done, my mind’s eye always in defiance. One day I showed you my labours, not exactly satisfied but contented by my efforts. ‘I love what you are making,’ you said, ‘but I really love what it’s made from.’
I have to say it while she’s calm so I might get heard. You make me feel disentitled to my opinion. She doesn’t look at me, ‘Is disentitled a word?’ I think so. ‘And that’s your opinion?’ That’s condescending. ‘No sweetie, that was patronising. This conversation is me condescending.’ You fucking strip me of my humanity and then blame me for being a zombie, like a proper voodoo puppet for you to play with. I feel like I’ve been shot and asked to pay for the medical expenses. ‘Oh, sweetie,’ she says, ‘we both know you couldn’t afford that.’
I keep dropping your brain on people that don’t even know you. Yeah, I say, you were telling me about that the other day, or showed me this article, or read it, said it, did it… All the things you know and do in my conversations; depth, breadth and dimensions, I only wish it were truly you and not just your thought. Actually, I was telling my friends only the other day about how you’d said that or something similar, I think. Funny, I can’t quite remember now, I’ll have to ask you next time I talk to someone.
I’m standing with strangers, near enough to one myself but not for the charms in my pocket and graces of fate, watching her play a piano in the street, beaten old upright been community curbed, loose a few boards, some keys, and an octave or three. She lays out a film score near to denouement, full of latter act arpeggiation here played as prelude. As the piece unfurls she pours herself into the sound until she is no longer conscious of how impressive she is, merely the pressure of the keys, the rhythm and its needs. My heart sings.
Sharing space together but me separating myself by insecurities, an evolutionary vestige still clinging to my chrysalis. You know, it’s not always going to be sonnets and sunshine, I say. There might be times where it’s gloom too, and grey. Arris smiles with her eyes and opens her mouth wide, unleashing a kaleidoscope of butterflies. They flock around the room, flutter, flap, and fill every available space, countless wings in the colour of all things beating their response upon the stillness in the air, a chaotic order of magnitude. So, I say, it doesn’t matter? And the butterflies abate.
I cried myself a river and floated bodily down it. Occasionally I would reach into the brackish wake, hoping to steer by manipulating the past. Of course, I hit every rock I could, lamented the rest, and yearned for the coast. Though I found the tumult quite comfortable, as my journey lengthened I wondered to what end I was headed. The more I thought about it the more the river receded. Eventually I found myself beached, standing upon a raft of experiences and wondering what next. I looked to the horizon, saw a mirage and decided it was real.
Help a starving artist eat.
Love is rubbing your lover’s feet after the shitty day you’ve had. Love is saying fuck off and meaning it, knowing it means nothing. Love is pimples and concealer, ravishing boredom and humdrum thrills. Love is accepting the smells, ignoring the implications. Passive, aggressive, slovenly, exacting, love is human and fallible, gross and divine. A trust fall in a bottomless pit, love is the knowledge you may never be caught before the bottom is hit. Love is invisible, immutable, transient and staid. Love is acceptance and longing and that being said, let me just say, I love you, instead.
My teeth hurt. I can feel myself dying. I wonder if it’s scurvy but know it’s not, just general malnutrition and a lazy malaise. I should do less nothing and more something, probably, that’s generally been the problem preached to me. I can feel the constriction in my lungs, though, vile little nodules growing rot and bile, creeping up to close my throat, at the back where the nasal sewers deposit themselves. I feel chalky and brittle, a set of crumbling functions in a bad routine. I don’t believe this will last but don’t know how to change it.
Arris prowls the length of each meridian and peruses every nexus, her travels leaving a soft torrent of honey running in her wake. ‘And it’s all mine you say?’ I nod softly at the pillow, a mere depression and relent leaving barely a dent. ‘All mine,’ she says, and measures the ley with eager precision, deft fingertips plotting each pressure point and planting a tender flag. ‘I still can’t believe it,’ she says, though doesn’t pause her territorial assertions. I sigh and close my eyes. It’s yours, I say, now and forever. I never knew its worth before you.
She’s presently living in another time. Only a mere matter of hours but seperate still from mine. I look up at the constellations and think of dilation. The farther out you go the further you stray from now. Four hundred and ninety seconds from Sol to surface, an Apollonian joke. I laugh and wonder how long it would take the sound to reach her heart, but I can’t clock the variables and the thought falls apart. Staring at our mutual stars instead, counting to infinity in my head, I take comfort knowing that, relatively speaking, we are always wed.
Arris lays her head on my chest and sighs lightly, like tulip dew dropping on grass. ‘I can hear your heart,’ she says. I wonder out loud, is it too fast? ‘Steady,’ she says, ‘I’m surprised.’ I am too, living as I’ve been with the thump-pause-thump-thump-triple pause-triple thump-pause-thump pumping like a morse operator jumping at the lines. Yet, I feel unshakeably calm. ‘I feel so safe in your arms.’ I slip my hand to the nape beneath soft linen curls and massage ventricular messages into her mind, finally having found my calling.