Cinder Verses

We are the most polite strangers who ever shared a bed for thirty years. So many evenings I’ve no knowing what to say to him. Would we just go on like this? And we had honed it down to such a delicate art; the not looking in each other’s eyes. There’s a resting balance between the acceptance and the anxiety.

He builds on it; he remembers where he left off; his distances are always advancing. There are no forgetful moments of warmth.

After we finish dinner, he wanders up the stairs or out into the back garden. 

 I actually like those moments when he is outside or upstairs, and I can feel properly alone. When you have a partner, and for so long; being lonely is looked upon as something of a sham-loneliness. When he’s actually gone, I’m allowed to feel it. In the face of terrible things, one always has a husband to tell, and there is ‘oh at least they had each other’ and ‘he/she’s been so wonderful with her/him through this’. What they all are saying is ‘how terrible it would be to truly alone’.

In truth, I’ve been alone for years now. But because he’s always close by, (entirely disconnected but close by), I’m not seen as really-alone, you know, not properly. You can’t explain that to people either. They don’t understand it, or they don’t want to. Living together is being together. It doesn’t matter how you feel; if everyone else outside your palace walls sees you as a couple, that’s what you are, no squabbling. I like it best when he is properly outside.

When he is properly outside, I like to move. Not just along the floors, like the ghost I am to him, but about. I move with my arms and my hips and all the grace my mother never thought I had. I fly! Slowly through the house, sweeping myself like a brush over this monument we have built to derelict affections.

Maybe that was the problem? If it had been passion, it would have had to burn out, not fade away, but neither of us were very good at grasping things in the moment. And we certainly never grasped it over time. We didn’t even hold on to each other.

Tonight, like so many other tepid, unspoken nights, he has stepped outside. For some reason, a foolish  part of me was absurd enough to hope, this evening. Heavens knows what for, but I lit the fire. And its glow was restorative. It seems tiny I’m sure, but it was something. I don’t usually do that, and so I must have expected something. I don’t know what he does out there but in here I’m in here dancing.

–      –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              

I can’t understand her any more  It’s got to the point so far beyond silly that the longer we haven’t spoken, the harder it gets to speak. I’ve forgotten what we ever talked about. I try so hard to remember the sound of her voice some evenings. I can’t remember her.

Anything that crosses my mind seems inconsequential. Everything would sound trite anyway, after this long. I don’t know how we got here. I bind myself up in dread when I almost have something to say, then fear it would come across insincere, and hollow. That would be worse than keeping the silence. I owe her more than platitudes after this long. I would disdain myself for that. There are certain lows I could not scrape, and she always deserved better than that. Than me.

–      –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              

There are ashes on the marble, before the fireplace, they have landed wherever they may choose. They move like the purple taffeta of my dinner dress. I dance with the ashes as they float down to meet the cool marble. We dance.

–      –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              

We don’t dance any more  That was one of the easiest ways in the world to be with a woman, and not owe her a single word. So what if you feel like strangers: dance! And if after an evening dancing, you’re still strangers, maybe you always will be? Or, better than that; maybe she’ll never lose her mystery.

(But that is a young man talking. Because I know better now what destruction is born of growing old as strangers. What I wouldn’t give to know her again. To dance with that beautiful girl.)

Men aren’t expected to like dancing, of course it’s admirable when they are good at it, but they aren’t supposed to love it, they are supposed to endure it, chivalrously. He is supposed to do it for her sake. Some evenings I just come out here and I dance, alone. As if my body never learned that we fell away from each other. I still need to dance. And so I must do it alone. It’s better than nothing.

–      –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              

I don’t always know what I’m doing, but what does it matter when it feels like this? It’s spinny and divine.

–      –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              –              

I didn’t hear her scream. Not once. I just saw the window flash orange and it caught my eye. I followed the light and dragged out a burning girl. I rolled her on the grass. She started to laugh. “We’re dancing” she said, after twenty years of silence, “we’re dancing”.

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About hereisthemoment

I write. Sometimes I don't.

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