Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Week 2: "Water" - Ben

"He had been the midsummer rain on my windowsill,
Together we formed puddles on the glass,
Tears on the concrete.

The singing brook turns brine to the ocean,
The beauty in the meander,
The question in the current,
Where once we dappled green in the nymph-light of the canopy,
Now, the might is much too much
And the surf stung him
And the riptide broke his bones
And my shouts fell deaf against the roar
And he won’t come home
And you cannot drown in air-like love."

You grip the paper, now stained by the ink that marks it. Something drips a steady rhythm from your chin- sweat, tears, rainwater or a potion of the three.
You have not been here since you were a child and the walk in the storm reminded you of your father (clinging to his hand in the dark) and his hopeless fishing rods and of your mother, cursing behind you, lighting a cigarette against the wind.
Now the lagoon is heavy with algae and it breathes thick and steady. The rain, a drizzle, has broken through the centre and the body of water appears to open with a great shout. You are on your knees now. Your hands are mahogany- wet with clay.
Days ago it had been so clear to you that it was over. Now, faced by this place, it seems a shallow victory. You see his face in the shallows and it is sadness and not some furious vengeance you feel. It is all hollow.
The water kisses your toes like a lover and purrs like a cat at your heels. It wraps your shins like a plea and bathes your thighs like a lustful crowd. You are waist deep now. The algae clings to your body like a new skin. You think it all very new.
You peel off layers of clothing and they sink to the bed, needless, to be discovered by two lovers or perhaps a fleshy little boy, his grip clenched tight around his mother’s pruned thumb. Now you are baptised in the warmth and majesty of the lagoon. You rub the algae into your cheeks and you are perfumed by the stench of decay and flora. The water salts your lips with the taste of a river.
You are in the centre now, where the rainwater has shattered the protoctista- the mouth of the lagoon. Between radii, far away, you are aware of your nudity and your isolation and you find it thrilling and erotic. The mouth begins to devour you- pushing from all sides of a circle- and you submerge.
Under, you dream that you see phosphorescence on the face of the water and the oysters are chattering to you.
When you surface, you remember the paper in your hand. Sodden, the ink has turned a blackish mess and all that remains is the shadow of words and an opening:
“He had been-”
You nod. He had been.
And you flee home, forgetting your nakedness for the sake of new light and the sunrise.


  1. Allow me to commend you for undertaking this project. It is gratifying to see artists (maybe prostitutes) working at their craft, especially at such an early age(um, forget the prostitutes). As aspiring writers, you must, de facto, share my love of the magnificent, evolving language we speak.
    This piece is very interesting, indeed. You profess to favor (sorry, American spelling) the "vague,": but the imagery is quite crystalline. However, I do question the word "protoctista"--this is a very specialized word. Since I am a physician who also has a degree in biology, I do know what it means; but as a w-a-g, perhaps one in a million has a clue to its (N.B., no apostrophe, Andrew) meaning, and fewer than ten per cent of the clueless would bother to look it up. (Relying on context, I suspect they think it likely has something to do with the geography of lagoons, as opposed to what's floating on the surface.) Don't get me wrong, I'm all for challenging the reader, but some gauntlets are better left uncast. Just my opinion.
    As for the first challenge, I suspect the obstructions were, well, simply too obstructive. I just don't think I have a grasp of the characters of these two women. I doubt, given the opportunity to converse with a group of ten or fifteen women of the stated age, that I could pick out the two women portrayed. Except for the red sweater. I imagined the sweater is red. Maybe Andrew would look "cute" in a red, preferable crimson sweater.

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment (beautifully worded)!
    I agree with everything you said (especially re: protoctista, where I just didn't want to say "algae" again...).
    And yes, definitely struggled characterising the first challenge. Sadly, I will NEVER be a 60+ year old woman and my first time writing from that perspective would always be a challenge.
    Thanks again.

  3. "And you cannot drown in air-like love"

    It's perfect. This line hit me.