It was something about the colour of the day and the change in circumstances that made her shut her eyes and slide along the line of memory, beads counted backwards until she arrived at the right one. This one, no, further, no – that one.
It was about a river. It was humid and steamy, but a cool wind reminded of the skiffs and rowboats you could hire for a few pfennigs. The river exhaled its breath of lettuce and mushroom.
There was no river, of course. She was just thinking in bed.
Anyway, there was something stuck in the memory, some little hard nugget, like a tooth stump in a child’s gum. She remembered worrying about wobbly teeth, afraid she would swallow them or the blood would fill her mouth when they cantilevered and skewed out of her mouth.
Child-worries are so like adult-worries that it is a wonder we think we are grown at all.
All thoughts are about love, really. Love for ourselves; do we, don’t we? Love for others; do they, don’t they?
Sometimes it’s all about breast milk, the want of itconjoined with the unknowing- we are not the mother ourselves, pouring love into our own hungry mouths.
It seems obvious she thought, It solves everything, from the most complex problem to the most puerile thought.
Such is dreaming in bed. It solves riddles, cleans the passageway of thinking, so that the beads slide up and down on their gorgeous threads.
Up and down like the skiffs on the river. Mistakes are made, the old love becomes the new love. The old failures reiterated in a gavotte or waltz.
You fold clothes and sometimes you look up because although these are different clothes, you did this before for another loved one. All books have pages because they are books. A pageless book is one in which the pages are so worn out they are inked into the consciousness of a nation. Flick the pages of a book and the words jump around, skimming and flying like little swallows above the river.
Knowledge. The. Book. Of.
Yromem. Memory sliding back.
Loneliness is such a drag.
That’s from Hendrix. When he sings it, you really feel it. Him and his guitar wailing and playing, and it being his only friend.
Anyhow, that is another bead entirely.
Johnny Friedlander. I remember him sliding his hands up my calves. Exactly what I was wearing. Exactly. He was an American. I didn’t want to be admired for my legs. They were just legs as far as I was concerned.
She didn’t feel so lonely thinking of him, although she had always been lonely as far as she knew. Something about her nature and her need to be separate and free to think made her lonely.
Actually, it would be so nice to sit next to someone else and never speak. Just have a relationship without speaking. Write, read, paint, eat. Never speak.
It was bound to go wrong as soon as you spoke. You will be misunderstood. Re-interpreted.
Rewritten, a verbal tradition of chinese whispers.
Your promise will be expanded into something you cannot possibly offer. Your loving whispers applied to the rest of someone’s life and used to patch walls and crevices that they never mentioned.Or that they did mention but in the mysterious garbled twin-talk of family lore. A family you never saw or entered, with its own beads sliding up and down, the familial empty libraries.
My father was this. My father was also the opposite of this. My father was unlovable and unkind. He was silent.So I grew to love a slippery rock and a fearful atmosphere. That was homely to me.
But he also cared. He made us tea. Sometimes he even laughed at a joke. He loved the cat. He didn’t beat us. He was mercurial, dispassionate, complex.
Now I can love a slippery rock and tea. I love cats. I look for gaps in conversations a meaningful. Silence.
How to tell anyone that? No, better never to speak but hold hands in the dark. Explanation is a chasm. A soon as a thing is said, it is misinterpreted, slid up and down, excised, put into an addendum.
Smell the river?
Veronica Aldous 2016 All Rights Reserved.