Swans by Alice Walsh

When you slept I opened your chest, the sides of your rib cage creaked open to the wardrobe of you. I wove that thin silk through your beating. Threaded you to me – to mine. Then closed you. Kissed you shut. With warm oil I made the sign of the cross on your eye lids, throat, heart. When you woke you pulled me to you and said you had the strangest dream.

We two were. Together we twirled, entwined. I didn’t end, you didn’t begin. The rhythm in you played me. I tied you, untied you. Thumb twisted gentle at the notch of your neck. We searched each other. White cloths fell from us. Fire warmed the sweat on our skin, breasts, ribs. We feasted on flesh by flickering light – licking, sucking, suckling, salts, tears. We drunk the universe from the shallow pools of our bodies.

They stood still and silent looking at us with lust and disgust. We didn’t stop, couldn’t stop, writhed, contorted, grimaces demonic – flushed with ecstasy a two-headed Siamese banshee wailing. They chained us, hunted us from the underworld through the trapdoor, our feet never touched the ground. We soared majestically up and up and up into the ether milk sprinkle of stars. We didn’t look back. For the first time I saw your great wings open and swallow the sky. The chain hung down between us. You showed me the constellation of Cygnus, while the sun followed behind us

*

Too many things have broken for this not to happen, for this not to be what it is. The scenes and sequences needed to occur have crashed across our path with such ferocity that it seems impossible to refute this gorgeous truth. I am falling, falling into the feathered white breast of you. The ice the ice – it does not crack here, there are so many things I do not know about you. There are so many things.

I want to know all that you are, that you have been, I want to meet your every mistake walking backwards. Your treasured lost loves hidden in drawers, your small stacked heartbreaks placed between books. Will you go with me into that good night? Us two, dressed like bombs – we will go out like sparklers, the fabulous colours of our souls exploding across the navy of the night.

I have fallen into you, I have fallen further than I ever knew. I know now what I can become.

*

You became unchained from me, saying it wasn’t what you wanted. I kicked the shackle against rocks and stones, it would not break. I did.

Blood burned fabulous against the white of me. You couldn’t bare the sight. I watched you walk on water. I watched your vast wings open and close, open and close until you turned from a white star to nothing out there in the wind.

Then I wondered did we still see the same moon? Were my stars your stars? Your land was so different to mine.

Hope, suddenly a diminishing thing.

*

Even if you came back you would not be you. You undid me, still do. You are so much more than feather and bone. You are of the earth, water and air. Return me to my fire of hurt – unravel the stitching, peck out each suture with great care, untether your feathers from this. You were never mine to begin with.

Close your eyes now you cannot see me, this abstract fallen undone thing. Cover your ears now you cannot hear me sing sorrowful from across the stream. Kiss me for the last time, let that great swan song soar – you are not mine, you never really were.

*

You danced around yourself, so afraid to stand still and stop pretending to be so unafraid. Did you ever stop pretending?

The curves of your sadness were familiar to me. The day tattooed on the skin of your soul. I felt near to you when the needle kicked black blue on my arm. A song played, no one knew where I was – least of all me.

I could see the gather and unravel in you. You could see it in me too. We were both reaching. We were each other’s pins and buttons. We needed something small to stop us from falling apart.

In my Polaroid memories you click your jaw, smoke rings jump from your asshole mouth and drift through the air – the ghosts of kisses, all kohl and coolness. Your hair hangs down, strands caught in the brush of your eyelash flicker when you blink, two turquoise irises disappear behind thin veils of skin. I stop breathing until I see them again.

I am lost somewhere on the continent of your cheekbone invisible words come from your mouth the speech bubble bursts.

I bite my bottom lip and don’t hear a word.

*

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

Your eyes are in my eyes.

You say I saw these swans once, two of them – flying across the blue. I heard them before I saw them. They were such a force, how they owned the sky. They made the most magnificent scene.

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

Your eyes are in my eyes.

 

Alice Walsh lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. You can read more of her musings at alicewalshblog.com or follow her on twitter @al_icewalsh

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