Barbara runs into me at the rocks by the north quay ferry. She’s getting off and I’m taking my time. We say, ‘Hey,’ in uncertain cadences like chastened children forced to make nice after a fight. It was never so hard before. She looks at my shoes and the stairs and the rocks and the sky and all the spaces where something might be that isn’t me. There’s no silence in the city. Pointing away, I tell her, I’d better go, but she’s already a few steps above me. Indirectly she says, ‘Nice seeing you,’ and continues her ascension.
Once year I smash a bottle of Southern Comfort on the ground. She would hate that, I hope, it was her favourite and her favourites were sacrosanct. The pleasure it gives me is short but large though largely without solace. I look at the shards and sticky liqueur and say it’s a metaphor, that it’s symbolic. I say that, but it’s not, it’s wasteful, scattered thoughts, passions, anger and obsession. I hurt myself in ways she would love and say it’s expression. Of what I don’t know, but once a year I smash a bottle and remember being broken.
I can’t remember what it feels like to want to love you. The yearning vice that clamps a heart. The penetrating gaze that dissects a mind. The casual touch that quakes a body. The balm that soothes a soul. The libidinous tide of lust. I can remember what it feels like to want to hate you. The smell of burning flesh and ash. The sandpaper rasp of an out screamed oesophagus. The unshakable tremors and knotted muscles. The deep and unabiding rage and confusion. The nightmares and exhaustion. The barren sensation of evaporated tears. The salted wounds. The fears.