I envy the silence of rocks. Perhaps they are not silent, perhaps they are whispering amongst themselves in rock-speak. I envy the dewy softness of clouds, how they glow around their frilly edges. Perhaps, to some small insect or some smaller particle, a cloud is as hard as a rock. Everything has its refutation. The shadow of a swallow licks across the gravel outside my window. Gravel, to the paws of my cat, as smooth as stepping stones. And I, I feel like a sponge squeezed past bearing. I scan my insides, the long lines of nerves, veins, the smooth surfaces of bones, the wet, pulsating organs. I come to rest inside my skull. The answer must be here: a switch I can turn to ‘off’. Or at least a dial, from zero to ten. Five would be good, a nice balance, a good number. It looks pretty on the page, if you mark it in dots, like the side of a dice. That is how I see five: two evenly spaced dots above two more evenly spaced dots, and a single dot perfectly placed in the middle. I see five as the colour blue, although I am not synaesthesic. Three is red, two is yellow. One, white or black. Black, the colour of my wedding dress, a froth of lace that ended just above my knees. Lace tights, a wide-brimmed, black felt hat, a tiny veil just covering my mascara’ed eyes. I even had lace gloves, on sale at Victoria’s Secret. White: the colour of mourning in Japan. I married a samurai. I still have my wedding ring, etched with the mon of my ex-husband’s clan. The ring rests peacefully inside a black lacquered papier mache box I bought in Srinagar. I left the bargaining to the man I was then with, who I later married, Husband number 1: an American jazz saxophone player who unbuttoned me in a great tangle of blankets that smelled of mould, the houseboat rocking gently against the wet green lake. I remember: one night in a generic mid-western city, its landscape a mouthful of broken teeth. My slabfaced hotel room is courteously provided by United airlines. I’m stalled, enroute from Toronto to San Diego, from one man to the other, and back, I have a return ticket and a multiple-entry visa. My long-toed feet are slip-sliding, my arms are flung wide, my fingers tear through lace, white this time and as thin as ghosts, the earth below a blue-green marble in a game I’ve forgotten how to play. The room’s cyclops TV eye glares down on the bed where I’m pressed flat by sheets tucked tighter than a straightjacket. I cannot sleep for fear of falling, for the sound of pinball in my ears.
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