View Media

from the bottom of the garden

an introductory chapter or so for a shortish story and then it kind of dissolves into random passages.

Vist kizzy's Profile

from the bottom of the garden

From the bottom of the garden.

The distance. Jacob Polley
I can feel your heart through the back of the chair:
Yes, it’s me, standing over your shoulder
As you pass your hand over your hair

There are cities, ports in whose harbours
Drift whole districts with their ball rooms and kitchens,
Places where the earth is cracked open

And men climb down with their own minds
Thrown out in front of them
So what should you care

If I dipped one hand in the current
And changed the course of your black hair,
The better to hold my breath to your throat












I watch you, so animated in conversation, and I see how beautiful you will be when you are old. Beautiful now with glassy-eyed youth and passionate hot skin. Id like to say that when we last met, you seared me with your kisses and the impression of your fingertips marked me above others, that your drumming heart, pulsating mind and merciless tongue had tattooed images of you into my stomach, my shoulders, my arse. The truth is that the nature of kisses is fleeting, a prelude or greeting or comfort…or goodbye… and flesh today is nothing but commodity, never loved but prized. We were wild that night. I remember how my collarbones ached as you dug your tongue into the hollows, I remember my joy at discovering you were truly flesh and bone, in a way I had never anticipated. Its easy to forget that a person is a person, easy to remember them as a perfume or a series of discolorations on the inside of a thigh or even as an emotion. Its rare to remember them as a whole, that smile, that gesture, that ultimately endearing crudeness that you would have grown to love, if you had been given the chance.

I’ve made no sense, let me explain. I am older than her and she is no wiser than me. I am blind to things she can see and she cannot understand others. I have not loved her very long and she loves no man, for love cannot survive with no comprehension. She is Flaubert’s Emma and I am Salinger’s Holden.

We met by chance in a very ordinary way in a very ordinary town. We are very ordinary people and that is what makes our story amazing. When I was younger I hated fairy tales,  I hated the surreality of them. To a child, growing up in a fairly deprived estate, when your mother tells you they all lived happily ever after you believe, with an infants logic that she is deliberately lying to you.  And when the handsome prince charming swings himself out of his dignified white convertible and sweeps the impoverished but virtuous princess off her feet they don’t explain why they’re in love. As I grew older and more brothers and sisters were produced to inherit fairy tales and mattresses with multiple piss stains I would amuse myself by telling them the real happily ever after waiting for them in one of the countless back alleys or council flats, where Princess arrives back at the palace expecting her well deserved lifetime of balls and glass slippers to find an accusatory and cruel Prince Charming, kids from a dead ex wife and a lifeless marriage that years later she tries to escape to find she is immortal, trapped in a fairytale lie forever sewn into a pastel straightjacket.

I’m watching you try and reconcile this bitterness with my love for her. I’m complex, like every other human being is complex. We can love and envy and hate all at once and by doing so distinguish ourselves from animals. Even us ordinary people.

*  *  *

And so it begins, our lives, as I am telling them to you are enmeshed within the trivialities and mundane traumas of everyday life. There are no wars to threaten us or throw us together, we both live comfortable yet incomplete lives.
The first time I saw her I was embarrassed. She was young, graceful… I felt like a father when his teenage daughter gets her first period or goes to the clinic for birth control. Feeling awkward, I became clumsy and as I feared, she saw what was supposed to be a purposeful, dignified stride forward to grasp her delicate fingers in a definite handshake as an ungainly stumble wrought of the degeneration of old age. I wont waste my time lauding her beauty for one thing I never believed, along with fairytales, was the descriptions of immaculate women poets like Keats never seemed to tire of. No, she isn’t any remarkable beauty and most would think so too, what she has, is a uniquely beautiful bearing and poise that can at times sooth or stimulate. What beauty she possesses pales in comparison to her quick mind, reflected in her agile, canine movements. I never noticed the ugliness in her face that night, I suppose because she was too consumed with happiness to reveal any of her base emotions. The ugliness that has since become apparent to me is down to the transparency of her, the lack of guile, when her eyes fleetingly yet searchingly meet mine in brief passing on the street I notice her outrage, the indignation of youth at old age. Not even pity.

She never knew that I was just six years older than her. What a difference that six years makes at the ages of five and eleven, ten and sixteen, sixteen and twenty-two! Where I grew up, by the time you were eleven you had learnt that god did not exist, at sixteen your friends had children and by twenty-two you were an addict or in prison. Well into your twenties, the six years ceases to be a sticking point for prospective partners and brings with it the illusion of security, prosperity and above all, maturity.
I aged quickly, like torture victims or bereaved mothers tend to do. I have this unconscious look on my face, as if I want to escape my harrowing life, I’m just waiting to be reborn into fire so that I might have a purpose.

Oh god… the harsh curve of her rigid lashes, gave her an unforgiving look of haughty innocence. I remember that she used to insist that the length and colour were all natural. Never. I watched her natural colour grow from the roots.

*  *  *


We’re deep in conversation and I want to sit and watch him suck in the smoke hard and blow it out with a vengeance. I don’t want to leave the pub, the intimacy, our conversation… for the cold and awkwardness I would feel outside in my thin top and tight skirt. He is talking with increased frequency and gestures with an elegant cider glass, banging it onto the table so that some slops onto my hand. He grasps my fingers with a generous squeeze of apology- he doesn’t stop speaking, he doesn’t break eye contact. I’m confused as to the direction our conversation is going and I realise that I have been tracking his movements and patterns of speech rather than what he’s saying. I understand him. I’m just fascinated that we’ve had these conversations, following different patterns, so many times that I’m insanely surprised that his most loved and well known mannerisms are still so provocative of the emotions that have dulled to something stronger than lust.

I sit in a corner of my sun-dusty conservatory and open one of my journals. Strange to look back now. I seem to have been more concerned with the aesthetic of the pages, the sketches so painstakingly drawn to appear hurriedly conceived. I remember how I would sit by old buildings, in libraries, meaning to work but instead becoming fixated with my creation. My re-invention of myself. Reading and re-reading my journals from numerous perspectives, agonising over certain passages and whether my weak stab at being profound comes across as pretentious or merely pathetic. I read my politics. I believed what I wrote then, and I still believe it, I almost believe it more now.  I understood, within days of getting out of our relationship, that though my ideals still ran strong, I wrote for him. I looked back after two years and thought what I could have done if I wasn’t seeking approval, recognition, of my poetry and prose. We were an unlikely match. I was often frustrated after a lecture about how writers are superfluous, parasitic and too vague. I hated the indie bands trying to emulate the past, processing and regurgitating what was once meaningful and profound- they have simplified it to be accessible and mainstream. I wonder at this new clinical approach to the love song. My favourite song is still Hey There Delilah, the newer version I prefer like i prefer Leonard Cohen’s’ Hallelujah, the focus is on the voice, I find Jeff Buckley’s version off-beat and somehow not quite right. I find Buckley the superior vocalist but he loses impact by the simple fact that he is not the man who wrote the song.

*  *  *

To her his fat smelt like urine, his fleshy hips and belly suggested the roundness of childhood, almost prepubescent. His jaw seemed not yet sharpened with adulthood- the hair on his body too fine and widely spaced and skin not toughened with age or sun. There was something indecent in the way he held himself, chin tucked into his chest and stomach impudently and unselfconsciously stuck out towards whoever addressed him, disgusting, his whole demeanour suggested a vulnerability that prompted disparage rather than exploitation. Her impressions of him at their first meeting were of disgust at his unconvincing attempt to hide his arousal when he stumbled and pressed his salty, sweaty bulk against her recoiling young skin. Although introduced with swagger and accredited with much, he seemed so unaccustomed to being around women and so awkward that things in which he was superior to her…experience..maturity..renown…counted not in his favour, but to further the distance between them.

Already I have lost myself in words. Words with no meaning. Filler. Sentences and poetic analogies that I have no doubt committed to memory and forgot and half remembered the act of remembrance as something beautiful, gilded in retrospect.

*  *  *

I pick a branch of cherry blossoms from a tree and I wonder at the balance of pale pink and burgundy. The leaves are so soft and delicate-like a child’s skin in that they are not old enough to be weathered by even one rainfall-they must have opened only yesterday. The branch is burgundy-brown-red, the stalks wine-purple and the petals watered down pink. The colours contrast so well, if one part of the entire branch of blossom was a fraction of a shade lighter or deeper then the beauty would be ruined. How can such beauty be random?


*  *  *


Pictures hung crooked and crazy paving looks better with age, this house would look worse modern. For who do I redecorate the rooms in which I once lived, slit my wrists, my first kiss?

Everything looks as if behind a blue screen of smoke- my eyes are blinded by the glare of the sun on white paper.

*  *  *
I just woke up. They operated on me. My broken head. I woke in white with a man holding my wrist. Not the tentative touch of a nurse checking my pulse but an authoritative grasp, as if of a mother irritated with worry over a delinquent child. I don’t know who I was hours ago. I don’t understand what provoked me to commit a crime. The nurses give me long-suffering and disgusted looks. I understand I wasn’t always an understanding or appreciative patient. A weary lawyer-looking woman walked up to my bed and swore at me, called me fucking nutter. The man holding my wrist waved her off. I suppose I’m young to these people, even if I’m a criminal. A criminal who can’t remember his crime. My vision blurs from time to time, I complain of pain in my head, I complain of pain in my head but the unsympathetic nurses do nothing until I’m screaming and blood is rushing in great sheets from my skull. They have to restrain me when the pain comes now, bandages made do in the place of bonds. The guard man is not needed to hold my wrist so he ambles off with the sleep-deprived shuffle of a dutiful officer, he’s probably not that important or even intelligent- just self important. I’m struck by the significance of our roles, the nurses respective attitudes to us. There’s one man who talks to me as if I’m a normal paying client. It’s only when my breathing and pupils are routinely checked with him at my bedside that I discover he is the neurosurgeon who operated on me. He wonders aloud why there are men standing guard on the ward when the man he’s talking to is obviously not the pre-op who committed any crime. I smile at this and thank him and when he’s been called away I wonder if I knew the surgeon as the person I was and I think about the person I am now. I don’t remember the person I was, I don’t know if the reason I have no visitors is because the officials don’t allow it or because the person I was was so abusive as to have no prolonged contact with others. I hope I have family. Unless I did something so horrific that the papers will report my crime no one will know who I am or where I went. It strikes me that I don’t recall my own name. it’s strange thinking that I don’t know if the person I was really existed-humans could be born fully grown, fully formed and I’d know no different. like Athena- sprung fully grown from her fathers’ head.

I lay back against the rough stone and let the sun play over my closed eyelids. The shadow of the tree leaves tessellate wildly in the wind-like a kaleidoscope.

My city
The day yellows and cracks and dies. The sharp smell of pine scissors through the mellowing ginger dusk, weak sunlight martyrs the powder-blue clouds-washed out-a reminder that its still winter. Gulls wheel and scream abandon, meditative liberation. Darkness creeps to smother the city, deaden the lights and life, the pubs and clubs and fights. Dusk, a casual glory- bares its bones. the flesh of suburbia corrupt is a very human nightmare.  Bred in this backstreet, a sentient plague, the urban constriction of a silken rope. Another dream in the river. Respite in the dust and stone, the skeletal foundations of construction seeking abandonment-seeping solitude-polluting our air and no solace in my home found.
Almost tangible, the stink of sweat and piss mocks my hollow breeze and paling leaves. And thus the indefinable is defined in the crumbling mortar and shattered brick. The golden notes of car lights fingering crumbling lace and cracked tile; the worn out gene pools and coffee stains. Saturation of colour and diversity fades with the last seconds- commodity. I want a flame to rise in this graveyard, reborn into the world of yesterday and decades past- an incarnation of my city must live on! The seductive monologue of life and death that we walk each day of our short lives whispers and repels me- appeals to my knowledge that the sun will rise again on the greying streets- destroys my bitter ideal with real inevitability AND IN THE HEART OF THE FAG ASH MEMORIABILIA NO SEMBLANCE OF THE CHILD OF THE PAST IS LEFT. The dawn reveals cigarette butts in rigor mortis and look what we’ve done…

My dad’s head is so full of smoke that he doesn’t hear me anymore. We had our dreams too early, they don’t seem real. Broken glass on the good streets seems like a late winter frost - broken biscuits. People in white shirts resemble old friends-I imagine myself in the big empty house on the hill. It’s old but it smells new. The floor is fake marble so its still warm under my feet. I look out the window to a battlefield. I lay on the rug and sink into the foundations. I pull the marriage veil curtains down and pretend no one’s home. In summer I will walk into town with bare feet. The gravel and fresh grass are a wicked contrast through the park. Train stations and petrol stations are best. You seem to be able to smell everything with such clarity. Wet leaves remind me of decomposing bodies.
\ I like seeing people look up at the sweeping clouds of birds, flocks swarming over the town hall or the carvings on top of the shops. I like the weird old men with cameras and moustaches that ignore everything else and just look.

I’ve always imagined myself as more of a Holden than a Donnie Darko. My attitude to other people I guess. More of a bastard than a nihilist.

Sitting in an exam, I imagine soaring up to the rafters and suspended lights and brushing down years worth of shuttlecocks and tennis balls in my wake. They fall like dead insects on my friends. Everyone is happy with me.

There is a colour that speaks to me. Purple rolling clouds, the static crackling through the water in the air. The mood sings in the minor chord of life. Sing me a song, give me everything you’ve got… make every syllable count. Well you can make me laugh with your words and your wit or bring me to tears with a single chord shift. You could break my heart if you put your mind to it.


There are no comments for this entry yet.

Leave a Comment:

You must be a member to leave a comment. Login or Sign Up