the songs would begin as a tight ball of string somewhere in my abdomen
I would weary at it until the treads came loose and I would tease out the different colours.
One was melody, the other lyric. They would begin to untangle themselves and the tension would ease
becoming a feeling of power and release, sometimes tears would fall. Then I would pour over laid out threads, the melody and the lyrics, repeating, honing and refining, until it was a thing so perfect, it was like it had always existed. Which of course it had, all along inside of me and I would join myself there in a perfect moment renewed in my own authenticity, absolute in autonomy. A song as a deified experience, calling to and resounding in the experience of others.
5 lines down
Now I journey home, having buried you. A lift from a neighbour to the airport, a plane, a coach, a taxi. The glorious suspended animation of passive movement. I am surrendered, but dread arriving. Dread the memorial. Your death renewed in every condolence. The fact softened with each empathic loving embrace. I want it to stay hard, in clear sharp focus. Feeling close to the event is to feel close to you.
I am still using your Wallace black leather classic handbag.
Trying to learn your good habits, probably too little and much too late.
One zip for the passport, one for the keys, one for the purse, tucked in against my body, strap across my chest, not dangling from a shoulder. Extra protection from would be thieves.
Tomorrow I will meet with rest of your family, in your home town, in the Catholic club of all places!
You won’t spin in your grave though, you’ll be dancing on the clouds laughing your head off at the ridiculous amount of autonomy people would surrender for such a filthy crutch. The opiate of the masses indeed. The largest peaodophile protection racket in the history of Christendom.
Because you are gone, all I have now is the certainty that love is all that survives the story.
Human connection is where we all exist eternally, in and of and for each other. So of course I will be kind. So of course I will forgive, because largely I now know that not that much actually matters.
The clothes, the shoes, the bank account , the government, it’s all just scratching around in the sand.
The things that remain live in the heart, or rather in the heart’s memory. I remember your hands, every time I look at mine. Capable, loving, certain. Squarish, broad practical fingers pushed out from strong palms and knuckles.
I remember your wedding ring, long lost. A rolled Silver Dollar. You loved it. I did too, I coveted it and was sad when it was gone, who knows where? And now you’re not here to ask. I remember the light hitting your hair through the orange voile curtains, as you sat at your desk in the morning, reading the papers online.
I remember the uncomfortable dangerous noises from you downstairs in the night, when you were drinking. I remember how your animals avoided you.
I remember how much you loved me. I remember how much it undid you. You were helpless to it and it made you hate your own vulnerability all the more. I remember how complicated you were and yet so simple. The one basic fissure in the tectonic plate of your personality, an early trauma that never healed, but spread, tributary cracks slowly compromising the terra firma of your self.
You chose to take yourself away, and died in an unforgiving place.
A place where relationships are measured by the value of things that can be exchanged.
A place where everything has a price, because there is so little. Because need is so great.
The first trip was a blur to bury you. Settle your affairs. Close up your house. Deal with left over pets, empty kitchen cupboards, dispose of clothes and shoes. Send saved draft emails to an old lover, your favourite sister. Face the public shame of the prodigal daughter arrived too late. Embarrassed to receive trays of village potatoes, cakes. Break like a child in the arms of the babas that hold me and declare ’няма маика, няма маика’ (Nyama Maika, - No Mother, No Mother) In the glare of car headlights at the side of the road, by the bench where the neighbours gather to gossip on hot Summer nights, under the Lindon tree.
Next morning, stoney faced and grey, heavy in the 40 degree heat, I drive to the police station in Svilengrad. The interpreter is sweet, but her English has been learned on a diet of Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. It is patchy….but I get the jist.
The place stinks of piss and cigarette smoke. The walls adorned with soviet public information posters. Stylised lino-cut prints of strident men and capable women with wind in their hair. Red and black ink against dirty yellow walls. The police inspector wears casual clothes. Ironed, laundered, cared for, but not careful. Jeans and a black T-shirt, displaying the King of Spades from a deck of cards with a skull for a head, embossed in gold.
‘…..sorry for your loss’
‘…..must ask these questions’
‘….. history of depression…’
That place, those jackals were not worthy of your story. It makes me choke to betray you with bare facts.
A breast cancer survivor with a double mastectomy who wound up in ancient Thrace, 20 kilometres from the birth place of Dyonisus. A modern day Amazon who carefully chiselled out a small island of peace.
Death is physically final. It draws a line under any unsaid apologies. Regrets set hard in stone for one to carry forever. Although, because you were so gracious, I find it easy to set mine down at the side of the road and walk on. It is what you wanted, after all, to walk on.
A year on. In Lesvos. I meet an Irish Woman, at a table, in a bar. Uncomfortably, she begins to spill her wisdom. It is dangerous to speak your truth when you don’t trust the hearts of the ears that listen. Magic is soft and innocent. Vulnerable as a babe. Critical minds are vultchers. They destroy the thing that defies mortal understanding.
The Woman,(who’s name I will not give) tells of a difficult personal journey. A kind of involuntary awakening.
“I didn’t know what was happening’ she said….’All I knew, was that I had to go to this place and pick up a stone and then say a prayer. I was like those crazy people in that film ‘close encounters of the third kind’ That were making models of the mountain. I was driven and being driven mad by strange unconscious urges. I thought I was going mad. I thought it was burn out. It took ages for me to trust my own journey.
I, on the other hand, have always trusted mine. My self trust was born of oppositional defiance. I forged it in obsessional 10,000 hours of musical practice. Listening to audiences. Watching faces, feeling flows of energy whilst busking. My intuition was sharp as a razor. Still is when I am full on listening. Not so often these days. But when my ears turned to listen to her story. I believe her heart knew that my ears were honest and that her story would be honoured.
She went back to Dublin and sent me back a small stone. She told me to either bring it back to Dublin where she would meet with me and do a ceremony, or take it and put it somewhere else