Page A Day – Eighth Day

My writing from the eighth day from the ‘write a page a day’ assignment on Diving Deeper:

You might wonder where the silver lining is in all this. It comes in moments, in small waves, in streaks of pink across the sky, in the stationary elegance of a heron waiting by the river’s edge. In the flapflap of duck wings, the tiny yellow faces of buttercups. I too, wait, at the river’s edge, looking for darting, sliver fish. A list of pleasures: eating doughnuts in Syntagma square in Athens when I was eight years old. A dream of my brother, last night. I half-woke, returned to the dream where simple things happened, nothing to speak of, enough to make me happy.  My list seems to be short today. There are many years between those two events. I could draw them on the wall in pencil, a series of interlinking circles. I close my eyes and stick a pin in the wall. The wall is solid stone. The tip of the pin bends as it breaks the surface. A spray of plaster dust lands on my foot. I dig into the gouge, trying to make the pin stick. The hole just gets bigger, uglier. I’ll have to cover it up somehow. There was a time I sellotaped my poems to the wall, not this wall, another one, in another country. Australia, Melbourne. Tin walls, a sloping floor, an old off-cut of carpet curling up. I had a bed, a mirror, my poems. A listing metal staircase linked room to ground, a walled backyard, no grass, pure concrete. I passed through this yard to get to the toilet, to the shoehorned-in kitchen. I hardly needed the kitchen, I lived on almonds and fresh apples, on yoghourt and beepollen. I hung my handwashed laundry across the sky. A neighbour once stole my knickers. I worried about him, but my landlord told me he was just a sad man, alone, I should not grudge him my underwear. I wondered how the man got in, did he walk across rooftops? Did he use my washing line – strung so loosely from window to wall – as a tightrope? Did he spy on me as I slept? Did he read my poetry? I was not what the landlord expected, and he was not what I expected. I had missed the bit in the ad about the house being gay-friendly. But he had a room (that tin hut in the sky) and I had the money. We inspected each other up and down. I was a slip of a girl on a year’s working holiday visa. He had seen better days. He lived in boxer shorts and a knotted vest, his curling chest hair poking through the holes like tufts of yellow grass. I sometimes wondered if he wished it were his underwear the neighbour coveted. Perhaps he was the culprit all along. I would not dare to stick my poems up on the wall these days, not those poems. Instead I have a Dali print, one of his many melting clocks. It’s a real print, not my own, my brothers, but I have secretly adopted it. I like the colours: the palest blue sky and swirling delicate clouds, an endless horizon, three pencil figures in the foreground, gesturing towards that clock, floating so vigorously downwards. Perhaps I should poke my pin into that clock, perhaps I should swivel it around, fling it skywards so it falls far far away from me. I cannot stand the ticking of clocks.

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