1 December, 2013
Men I Could’ve Loved


It was important to me that he loved me. I remember that. I remember curling my lips just so, and getting every gesture just right, and marketing myself professionally to him as The One. I played with my hair and looked sheepishly away when he complimented me; I was just the right amount of confident, and just the right amount of submissive. I cooked him his favourite meals and learnt the words to his favourite songs. I organised, planned and performed my life in such a way that I knew he had no choice but to fall, deeply, desperately, suddenly in love with me. Because just love wasn’t enough; it had to be mad, possessive, anarchic love that took hold of him completely, so that he wanted to take hold of me completely.

I revelled in his adoration of me. ‘I was made to be loved,’ I trilled, laughing at my great luck and wit and triumph. I felt an inner glee every time he whispered to me sweet nothings, or brought home flowers, or held me close by his side in a crowd. I flourished in his spotlight, grateful for all the new, exciting attention he was giving me. The game was going splendidly, just as I had planned. I was loved. Wasn’t that wonderful news? I was loved. I was treasured. I was cherished and spoilt and treated like the queen I’d always wanted — but never expected — to be. I was the light of his life, and he chased me like a little moth. I was a prize, high on a pedestal, housed in an expansive temple, worshipped; I had sacrifices made in my name and controlled the universe accordingly. I had power in the palm of my hand, between my lips, behind my eyes. My first conquest. My little colony. My flag flying deep in his chest. It was ecstasy. It was perfect.

For a time. I kept up my little performances: my lights were always down, the stage always set, the show always going on. It was wonderful. A little, established routine, ticking past like minutes on a clock, full of significance, passion, love. I played my part with dedication and panache. I was a star. But the audience waned. His sweet nothings were more nothing than sweet; his eyes looked at me less frequently and for less time; he sang songs I hadn’t heard before and claimed not to like the things I’d always cooked. I was sure that it would pass; it was just a crisis of faith, a little doubt here and there, but nothing that our church couldn’t survive. But the garden was no longer tended and the flowers began to die. The weeds grew up and the holy books in the pews grew yellow and tired and started to curl at the corner. I was desperate in my attempts to renew and strengthen his faith. I giggled more and sang louder and pouted and smiled and danced and solicited greater beings than myself to tell me how to stop this dreadful… secularism… Absence.

He left anyway. He did love me. I know he loved me. He loved me because I grew to love his favourite songs like he did, and I greedily devoured his favourite meals as he did, and I loved the frisson of excitement that ran through me when I saw how he saw me, when he reacted to my great arias, my compelling scenes, my triumphant final notes. When the church was mine and mine alone, empty and faded, I recited these ancient texts to myself, sang myself hymnns and danced singly with the ghost of his devotion. I inhabited it; I began to live there; I made it my home — a deep well inside of me that went down so far, even I wasn’t sure of its end.

It was very important that he loved me, that I possessed him.

27 May, 2013
Men I Could’ve Loved.


We met at a coffee shop; I think that’s how romances are supposed to start, isn’t it? Someone turns around suddenly, coffee is spilt and everyone is adorably embarrassed and our hands touch and we can’t help but spend the rest of our lives together. It wasn’t quite like that, though. I spilt my coffee, all over myself, that’s true. We both apologised profusely and he offered to buy me another, yes. But I refused and ran away before any more could be said because the real truth is that the trousers I was wearing were my last clean pair, and if I turned up to work in a stained, wet outfit, I’d be reprimanded or fired, but if I turned up to work at least an hour late (with a hole in my pocket from having to buy another pair, for there was certainly no option of washing my current ones), I’d be reprimanded or fired.

It was raining outside, and I remembered just as my foot entered a puddle deeper than it looked that I hadn’t protected my new suede shoes (impulsive, indulgent, but ultimately sensible purchase because wouldn’t they look smart when I walked into the office?). It was cold and miserable and I rolled my eyes and thought again ‘Is this really May? Well, MAY I take such liberties? May I ruin things for everyone just at the worst possible time? May I make everyone miserable and cold for days on end, when I promised such wonderful, sunny things?’. I grumbled throughout the day, grizzling and growling under my breath that life could be so hard. I didn’t think of the man again, the stain on my trousers reminding me only that things fall apart and things get ruined and nice things don’t stay nice for very long.

5:29pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZSazpvlya2oB
Filed under: writing prose 
24 February, 2013
"Kiss Me".

"Kiss me".
And it didn’t sound quite as I expected it would,
Not quite as I was hoping:
No warm, husky lust,
All my deep, dark wanting trapped in my throat.
No mischievous wink,
Sly smile or gentle grazing, flirting fingers;
No barely parted lips, all promises, pink, wet promises;
No purred demurring, coy dismissal,
pulling, pushing, pulling, pushing,
finally, finally giving in.
No burning passion, bubbling, fizzing, boiling over;
flames and forest and dancing shadows against the night,
warming, warming, heating, blazing, glaring.
"Kiss me".
Just a wailing desperation;
hands gripping arms a little too tightly;
Bambi eyes dewy and imploring,
pleading silently while my mouth struggles to close;
Just open in a fresh ‘oh’ of ‘oh what can I say?’
'Oh what can I do?'
'Oh, oh, don't leave me'.
Just white knuckles, stiff with tension,
tense with nerves, no shaking, no shaking,
trying so hard not to betray my desperate longing
for anything, everything to happen.
Just a heart weeping, cracking, breaking slightly,
leaking, folding, collapsing, defeated.
"Kiss me".

8:52pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZSazpvevvcTP
Filed under: Poetry 
24 February, 2013
Love Song in London.

Kisses in Hyde Park,
where I skipped and sang as though I had only just discovered joy.
Snide comments in hushed voices in the Tate Modern,
where I was marked by the realisation that there was nothing modern about us.
Holding hands across the Thames,
where I felt invincible and invulnerable and all the beauty of the world at once.
Watching Shakespeare in The Globe,
where I chuckled quietly thinking that you were my whole world.
Farewells and goodbyes at Charing Cross,
Where you called me Eleanor as if to say “I’ll erect monuments on my way to you.”
But I’d forgotten that she dies at the end and all but one of her statues is lost.

8:50pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZSazpvevuowm
Filed under: poetry 
13 May, 2012

Your hair in the sun
The gleam of your silver knife;
The pillars came down.

6 May, 2012

Sea against sand,
Sun against sky; never exhausted.
I am asleep.

2:44am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZSazpvKyJdvM
Filed under: undaily haiku 
6 May, 2012

She put down her cup. It’s gentle thunk against the table sounded like a full-stop. It punctuated our silence with a finality that was as overwhelming as was the gesture mundane. I didn’t know what to say. The clock ticked past seconds like ellipses, waiting for one of us to do something. We didn’t. The rhythmic pulse of tapping keys and beating hearts petered out. The next pages are all blank.

1 May, 2012


We crunched down the path, our breath clouding in front of us as we puffed in the cold air. We’d only just passed their front gate but I was already lost; we’d never turned left from there before. It seemed like a long way that we walked, but it’s impossible to accurately judge distance when you’re so small you still need your hand held. I guess, now, that it was  measurable in metres, rather than miles, but I still don’t quite know where we went. I’m not confident I could find it again if I tried — not that there’d be anything much to find there now.

We reached the fence and she handed my sister and me an apple each. We had to climb up on the posts and be supported at the back so that we could reach him. I remember being worried that he would accidentally bite me as he took the apple from my palm. Of course he didn’t; his big, horsey lips wrapped around the little cox and it disappeared in an instant. The crunch of it as he chewed was one of the nicest things I’d heard. I reached over to touch his velvety nose and tried to stroke his mane — it was a little out of my five-year-old reach. My sister fed him her apple, and my grandma gave his neck a firm pat before we left. I wished I could produce the same soft thud from his skin, but my arms were too weak and my hands too small back then.

I’ve done it plenty since, with different horses: stroked their noses; tucked forelocks into browbands; checked girths against round, stuffed tummies; smacked, with great satisfaction, their strong, powerful necks. I always wondered what it had been like when she was there and what it would’ve been like if she were there still. It’d have been nice to have done that with her. I was a bit slow on the uptake, and whilst no amount of enthusiasm now can change what I’ve missed, it feels nice to know that some part of what she loved is with me.

It was a fleeting visit, just saying hello. We walked back to the house, and probably had cake or strawberries, as we usually did. I don’t remember meeting him again and he’s not been alive for a long time but his name is still on the stable door.

23 April, 2012

The Feast

You hand me words on a platter. I don’t pick up the silverware; I touch them with my fingers. I hold them up to the light and wonder how you made them, what is in them, how they will feel. I want to taste them, first, just give them a try. I open my mouth and place one word on my tongue. It is sweet. It settles and melts there; I cannot help but bite down. I chew silently, savouring the word whilst my fingers still turn the others over. I wonder which I’ll eat next. I swallow and the word slides down my throat. It is taken up inside my stomach; dissolves there and becomes a part of me.
I pick up another soft word between my fingers and bite it in half. My fingers are sticky with its innards. I chew and swallow and chew and swallow. I lick my fingers and wipe them on my trousers. I pick up another word and another and I eat until the plate is empty. I collect the crumbs with my fingers to make sure that it is clean. The whole words are gone. They are just bits and bubbles inside me now. Nobody can see them, but I can feel them. They fill me up. They nourish me. The cinders at the bottom of my stomach ignite and hot air blows through me. I look to you in silent thanks. You hold your hand out for the empty plate. I refuse.
I stare at my reflection in the surface; it does not belong there. I can feel your words churning, glugging and rolling within me. They are burning up my face. I cannot make a sound. You whisper and leave me. I do not see you go; my breath fogs the mirror and my face blurs. I sit for hours, immobile, waiting for the repetition of your words. My stomach is unsettled, alight, bubbling, boiling, toiling, burning. I am full. I am over-fed and you are starving. I think about you and how you made your words and presented them to me like gold. Precious golden nuggets that I kept and ate and are repeating on me now. I open my mouth to the empty room. I stand and leave. My clear vowels hang in the air; my words lie on the plate until morning.

22 April, 2012

[I don’t know why it’s not working, but every time I put the picture here, it deletes all of my text, so I’m not including it. It’s an image of three pairs of legs — two female either side of one male; the male legs are slightly behind the female legs]

When we walk ‘side-by-side’, I don’t think you realise that I fall behind. I keep my hand on your shoulder to let you know I am there, but I know I don’t really touch you. I don’t think I have ever really touched you. I have played with the beads on your necklaces; I have stroked your velvet dress; I have deftly unbuttoned your blouses and unclasped bras. I have gripped your tousled hair in my fingers and run them down your spine; I have kissed your lips with gentle timidity or barely restrained passion. I have felt your eyelashes tickle my cheek when you kiss me goodbye. But I have never really touched the inner part of you.

The part of you that smiles in moments of quiet reverie or hovers above you like a brewing storm. The part of you which makes your “I love you”s sound, at best, distracted, and, at worst, insincere. It is a part of you that grows larger for each day I don’t really know you but love you nonetheless.

It has recently grown so large that it keeps me from you; it bars my entryways and blocks my advances. It draws back momentarily before bubbling suddenly over and I am forced to take two steps backwards. I am being forced to retreat. I have not ever touched you, not really. I realise I never will.

So I walk a minute half-step behind you, with my hand on your shoulder. I wonder what I will say and how will you react and what you will do when I’m no lonnger there to not touch you, when really it is I who will not know what to do, how to cope, how to move on. I consider the possibility that I will always remember the longing for The Girl I Never Knew; I will always wonder what was inside her; I will always wish I could’ve touched her. I might wish that she is ar

ound every corner, waiting to be discovered again. I might think of her when I touch and know and love other women. I might always be fighting an underground battle against her. I consider that this is already part of her story; she already has a space for The Men Who Wanted To Know Her. Maybe she carries around a thought, pregnant with possibility, that says she will one day meet a man who can touch her. And another which says she already has, somewhere in Love’s — or Lust’s, or Loneliness’ — murky past. Maybe I will become another lost boy in her story, and maybe sometimes she will think of us, think of me, and she will absent-mindedly touched the right-hand corner of her mouth. But maybe she won’t. Maybe I just wish she will in the same way I wish so many things about her.

I pause for a moment; she walks on. My hand falls from her shoulder; she stops. She turns but does not speak. She is silent with expectation. I look at her and shrug, helplessly, wanting words to fill my mouth with gushing apology and gasping, faltering love. It is dry; I open and close it, once or twice, shaking my head. I flail like a fish on a hoook. Her confusion ceases and a calm, sorry understanding washes away her expression. She nods, slowly at first but then decisively, turns and throws me back into the sea. I flounder at first and the cold, salty water stings bitterly in my hook-wound, but I, at least, find that I can swim.

(Source: gettyimages.com, via exercisesinwriting)