Each journey home offers new delights. The lilac trees are in bloom, the clouds slide swiftly across the evening sky, the purring and honking and revving and racing add, in unison, to the harmonics and the visual landscape while ham hocks and half read books lay scattered in my dreams. The days are drawn in thick lines as I fold myself inward, releasing all the carrier pigeons as I lay flattened against the history of emotion. I have come to this sentence forlorn and loaded waiting for the clause to arrive empty handed. I have returned day and time again feeling each pang of guilt as I paint the corners gold to ward of ants, beetles, roly polys and any other creatures who are shipwrecked along the shores of paraesthesia. The sun has rudimentary controls and yet somehow becomes an ink blot representing human behaviour and I stand and stare with my eyes closed wallowing in the contradiction. We have been here too long in this labyrinth of worn earth and dusty trails and when you hear me cry out you stop to tether the world.
On paper the line alters the rotation of the earth whose speed is familiar like a forgettable kiss. Where belief lives is where I go to die – over and over. My flesh glistening with precipitation. I find comfort, if you will, sprawling across the rural background of memory imposed upon water as each district burns. Vows are tantalising lies sliding into the span of conversation in 2022 as we wait for the birds to take flight or spy the titles of other people’s books. I follow the bowl moon home and the whims of insistence walking the circumference of space. Each turn of the spectral wheel reminds us of the last and yet there seems to be nothing garnered. We take clippings in an attempt to preserve some sense of integrity but will gladly torch the path behind us leaving nothing to grow. The sun seems to have taken a friend and is stuck high in conversation.
‘of course’ they said as we played in the water toe deep and more. My eyes are always transfixed on the point in which the sun sets and rises while the words escape me and wind up misrepresenting the equinox. There are choices that somehow seem wedged in the driest corner of my lips and spark chaos and lies and all that is holy in this world. We are left below when facing the rising sun and only move when the bell strikes three time three and once again for every rotation along the celestial pole. You count and I pray matching each other as we strive for forgiveness or perfection or absolution or some other grand idea that sparked a revolution. Returning from the shore side walking, as we did and always will, eastwards first with the wind and then due south along the ditch until we find home nestled between two giant trees that span worlds. Between memory and fantasy there is me trying desperately to navigate the stars and after each once around the celestial block I return half heartedly and half formed. We pick stones, shards of glass and other fragments of the past trying desperately to make sense of a world with too much choice and not enough care.
The sprawl is too much for my chest to hold; All limbs and songs are historical references. Finding the structure of breath is identical to those two-toned walls of my youth is concerning and yet somehow not surprising. I moved to avoid the avalanche of ideas directed outwards. Nostalgia has no place in the midst of prayer and yet here we are reciting incantations in search of immortality. We sought new pastures, new lanes, new forms of advice and still somehow the laws of physics remain. Where there is a will there is a million tiny moments of disappointment as the thread is left exposed. I face the mirror and watch myself transcend a holy vow, the echo becomes real and I am never alone. Every night the sounds of wilder and wilder stories are told and even the idea of comfort leaves me hoping for some sort of reformation. These lines inhabit the world or my tiny corner or the shape of things to come. I wish by casting my history to the wolves and watch the night in anticipation. I can’t bring myself to read in the middle of so much despair and sackcloth. Finding comfort as one does from recorded voices that are not my own and that remind me of simplicity. We waited for the foxes, for the night, for the playtime, for the next station and for the inevitable loss but what we found was the ashen remains. Oh how poetic. Every mistake is a record of its production and how the journey came into being is half the battle. There are lions in the street and silence in the air. We forage for small acts and sweat the small stuff in the hope that we are enough.
The construction of myself is a prize not worth having. I stride into the eclipse turning turning fitlessly. As the baby sleeps my thoughts turn to systems of denial and float along to my heart’s content. Where there is ownership there is power and where there is power there is the counting of time implying a concrete reality. We brave the screen tutting as we scroll as the music becomes unbearable. I force myself to concede and laugh and bare witness to my own inability to distinguish between lattes and cappuccinos when I can’t see the chocolate on top. Our purchases are metaphors as is our tastes the only truth is the digestive language we use in conversation. The chairs are not all alike but sitting is the same and remains the best form of defence. Two or four legs firmly planted and tended and watered will see returns triple in the time it takes to unburden the world.
Jimmy Cummins is a poet, editor and teacher based in East London. With Andy Spragg, he edits RunAmok Press. Previous books include Cities (distance no object, 2021) and Flash Bang (Veer 2011).