Lofts

January 10, 2011

There is this smell that I just discovered, or maybe just rediscovered, or maybe just realised I’d forgotten, which comes from the cardboard sleeve of an old album you bought in a charity shop; and it’s the same smell I remember from my father’s old Subbuteo collection we used to play with in the loft of our house. To smell it properly, you have to stick your nose into the sleeve and inhale. It’s cardboard, slightly damp and musty from all the boxes and lofts it’s been kept in down the years, but it’s also alive: alive with the excitement of all the hands that have ever touched it, and pulled the vinyl from it and turned it over and over to marvel at the images and words that grace both sides. It’s the smell of the past, reborn and waiting to be found again; it’s the smell of a memory that you thought you’d lost, or whose significance you’d underestimated; it’s a smell that reminds me of being at home, in the loft – not now, but as a child. And I found it just now by accident, and I realised it had never left me at all; I had simply lost track of it somewhere in the midst of all these new sensations. And to find it again made me thankful and hopeful all at once; to know that it was still there, and that it would always be there, it just made me smile.

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Same Trousers

November 22, 2010

The man with the same trousers as me
Doesn’t know
That he’s wearing the same trousers as me
Because I’m sitting down
But he’s wearing the same trousers as me
And if I stand up he’ll see
That he’s wearing the same trousers as me
And it will be embarrassing.

The man with the same trousers as me
Wears them well
The same trousers as me
And he’s having fun
Wearing the same trousers as me
And I don’t think he’d care
That he’s wearing the same trousers as me
Not as much as I do.

The man with the same trousers as me
Is more popular than I would be
If I wore the same trousers as he
So I’ll go
Wearing the same trousers as he
Slip away unseen
Wearing the same trousers as he
And tomorrow I’ll give them away
To the local branch, of the YMCA.

Winter

November 21, 2010

The coming of winter’s mist draws a fire line
Between the cold night and the heat of a room.
And her foggy arrival makes me thankful
For warm-hearted friends to thaw the frosting
With dandelion memories of summer,
Freed from the frozen rivers, where they lay
Unmoved and unremembered until today.

It is this most elemental season –
As pillaging fires wage bloodless war
Upon towns of ever-innocent snow –
That does stir my spirit to new actions
And drops my thoughts down from deathly trees
To the decaying leaf ground far below
Where, as summer seeds they do root and grow.

For winter is but the promise of spring;
A savouring time for thoughts to be breathed
And take form in the damp and icy air.
For dreams forged in a summer’s furnace
To be practised and steeled for the fight
That will come with the snow’s sudden melting,
When the world for battle comes returning.

So come take my hand through a winter’s dream,
Kicking leaves and mudding up our boots,
Winding our way slow through the icy wood
And the crackling pools which promise so much
As the sun slips away between the trees,
Leaving shadows which whispering do say
That cold as the night, is the warm of the day.

Stare

November 19, 2010

I look at her and I see…I just…see everything. All of it. I hear every moment of the most fleeting conversation; I feel the faintest pressure from the lightest of touches; and I see a past that I’m sure once was, but which I know never existed. I see every strand of hair falling in and out of place. I see her teeth, and I see the tiny bit of food stuck in her teeth. I see her hands, which she tells me are not model’s hands, but all I see are beautiful, perfect, untouchable hands; hands that I wish would just reach out for me. I see her legs, which I’d hoped to see – because I think she has beautiful legs – but which she usually keeps covered. And I see her stroke them absent-mindedly, and I see that my mind is missing too, for all I can see now is her face, and I can see what she’s thinking but not what she’s saying and all I am really aware of is a desire; a desire to tear her carefully, ever-so carefully, from this world and paste her into a scrap-book land, where everything combines in a perfect collage, madness as it truly should be. A land where I see her every day, and see her smile and keep it just for me, and see her never grow old and see the photographs we’ve not taken and all the places we’re going and the lights and the stars and the whole world aligned for us and us alone. Alone. Alone is the one thing we are not. Tonight we are not alone. For he is here. And my gaze is paralysed. And the memories I had imagined become dry and slip from between the pages, lost.

Timing

November 19, 2010

The time between the bus stop
And my front door
Is two minutes and fourteen seconds
Exactly
I didn’t have to count it
That’s how long the song lasted.

And the time from the front door
To my bedroom
Is longer than it was this morning
Strangely
Though the steps haven’t changed
And the rooms remain the same.

And the time it takes to say
I don’t love you anymore
Is the same as it takes a tear to fall
Precisely
Because as you were telling me
I counted each one to distract me.

Tube

November 19, 2010

They kissed. On the cheek but with lips a little too close, and she stood up, waiting at the door. And as the train slowed he watched her, taking in all he could. A final farewell, a keep-in-touch and a see-you-soon and she was gone. As the train pulled away he pulled his headphones from his pocket, held them in his hands, and as she faded he waited; allowed himself a final moment of floating in her wake, letting her echo gently rock him for a few more seconds before lifting the music to his ears and letting it carry him off, down the dark and tunnelled tracks.

Sometimes it takes forever. Sometimes it was never even there. And sometimes it was right in front of you the whole time.

Tonight, in the midst of this utterly charmless company, amongst these girls who talk and talk without ever visibly admitting breath and these men who will never, not in a million years, be wrong in their own minds, amongst this swirl, this hurricane of nonsense, in the centre of all this was you: fair Lady of restraint. I could see it on your face, not etched there, just perched effortlessly, the patience with which you listened without judgement but with just the slightest frustration shaded in the faint crease between your eyebrows because you are better than this, better than them, but far too good to ever let that show. And I was with you, sitting with you in the stillness. And as I watched you, the strangest thing happened. You grew old. Or rather, I started to see you as old – I saw you as an old woman, right before my eyes. But it didn’t seem strange. It fitted. The age suited you, or maybe you suited the age. Then you seemed young, you seemed to me a child. You were at once young and old and every age in between and you were perfect. I saw you in a hundred ages through a hundred thousand years and in every one you were beautiful. Eternal. And you will achieve great things, then you will ascend greatness and leave it far behind you on your journey to forever, but to me you will always be that moment. The moment that I felt the past at my back and the future before me and the world perfectly poised between the two. The moment it all made sense. The moment you grew old and I knew.