Collaboration with Paul Pinn
Your memory wavers like a fading photograph of a distant unimportant relative. However, your surname sticks in mind, gives you away.
Charnock - charlock: a weedy annual of the mustard group; bright yellow flowers reflecting the day in cornfields down by the chicken coop where, back in some lean year, during a crisp brown fall, a rodent's nibbled teeth gnawed at an empty moment under a sick grey sky that frowned in vague torment at yet another lie as I left you to die, a bewiskered woman, a filamentary mole, burrowed 'neath the nap of past events, your spoor ugly hills 'midst other peoples' dreams.
Hah! And to think you posed as something exotic hidden in a brightly coloured shell, like a pacific mollusc, expecting me to coax you out. If I had I would have missed the catch, and let's face it, there were plenty more fish in the sea without me having to spend time on thee, slug in a pretty shell, crossing your legs for me.
But it's no good trying to escape from you. Every night I dream of flawless prisms of faceted gold glittering becalmed in a sea of mud, strange creatures milling around in attentive excitement, burbling and guzzling, probing and uttering sounds of pleasure, inebriation, desire. And when muddy hands reach out to touch the prisms and capture infinite spectrums, to twist and torture their colours, caress and love their brilliance, your form appears and turns my guts, and the prisms laugh, weave a slick temptation, flash smiles of silver beauty, a perfect manipulation with which to confuse me.
Alas, the prisms fade as the gold facets dissolve into a glaucous backdrop, and your form remains bearing a warmth that sickens like the stench from unwashed armpits, and in that hour before wakefulness, you touch my body with a coldness straight from the sneering face of Time. And so the inebriated grow sober and lose their desire, and I awake, hungover but relieved, calm enough to face another day, close-shaven and without the Slough of Despond.
I can think of your sister then, young Kat, who slinked like a horny wraith down to your father's cellar, pushed open the freshly painted door, and drank one of two vats clean dry. With her hippy hat she looked quite pretty, as she sat and watched a cat chase a rat round and round the other vat. But the cat was slow and fat and lost sight of the rat, which ended up sleeping on the brim of Kat's hat, the cat drunk on the contents of the second vat, Kat floating face down in what was left.
Vats without bottom, young Kat. Vats without a top. They're cylinders which I dream through from beginning to end. Prisms I crawl through - breaking each golden shaft of dreamlight and letting it mend behind me. I seek your golden eye - the light at the end of the tunnel - a little girl's eye, whose innocence can only cast such heavenly guidance. You see, Kat, it was your sister who should've had it up to the neck. Not you. Not you at all.
A circular tunnel is the worst tunnel of all - which is my own particular cellar - and it's where my bottles of red are stored, like glass sleepers. Until I touch them and find them softer than shellfish without shells. Wobbly containers, each with its own coiled-up soul of slumber. One drips a white cat-lick substance that the cork itself seeps.
I wake yet again to summer. The meadow wafts with motes from shedding plants. Motes not moles, Kat. It's my whiskers that itch when you kiss my lips. Not yours. Picnics are nothing without the wine-cooler close by. Have another glassful before we retake the rhythm of our love. You're nicer than those characters I used to read about when I was a child - those peers of mine that Enid Blyton sent on adventures........into cellars.
(published 'Psychotrope' 1996)