Ghosts on the Bridge
There's a certain place on the bridge where, if you stop for long enough, you can see the whole world turning on the strands of a jellyfish wind chime in an abandoned bedroom's window. The chimneys watch it, and the clouds. Decades pass, pull thunderstorms and deathstorms in, then away.
He stood here, once, in the dark, listening to the ghosts caught along the cobwebs strung out between the flags of peeling iron. Felt the whisper of the river as it passed below him, emptying itself into the sea, endlessly. He remembered that woman, turned into a shell, the way she fit the curve of his palm as he lifted her to his ear. How he tried ever so hard not to swallow her.
Somewhere in the belly of the city, the gallery sleeps. Day spectres gather in the brushstrokes of centuries, snag their spelks into the souls of children wearing the skin of grown-ups as badly fitting finger puppets. It's the silence that unsettles the most, how it slips from the frames, pads along the walls. In the snoring cafe, a moth murmurs between the coffee machine and two lovers carved from a block of Frosterley marble.
I watched another woman kiss him once, in the kitchen. Saw her fingers transform into tentacles, swim themselves onto the diving board of his skin. The hacky microwave shuddered. The peach pip in the ashtray turned away, embarrassed. The photographs of his family blu-tacked onto the cupboards fluttered, closed their eyes. I tied knots in my tear ducts, begged every dripping god of water not to betray me as that woman sighed through her octopus ways.
Lips are peculiar. Soft, like the pages of diaries conjuring faraway memories. Hooked, like the briars on pathways abandoned by dreams. On the outside of the library’s door, someone has taken a piece of the fallen cathedral and scratched initials into the wood. It must have taken hours, this dedication to scars. The was a bathroom once, in a derelict house, where the men from the mines used to go to fight. Pieces of broken mirror lived in the sink with a family of bluebottles. In the dark, they shimmered, imagined themselves fairies for a moment when the moon tumbled its light through the missing pieces of the window.
I’m tired of living my life in reflected things. Puddles pursue me, the constant gaze of the neighbourhood cats throw back the image of myself, all bent and misplaced. Rain on leaves has become an enemy, the metal on the hinges of gates laughs straight into my distorted face. I am thinner than tracing paper these days, on the inside at least - see through and whispery. Half-woman, half dandelion seed on the wind.
He wished once, on a passport and a ticket. Tried to promise to relearn the forgotten ways of being a signpost, of becoming rooted. There was no tree in his ancestry though, no lighthouse. How can a whirligig bird convince itself it can be content without its wings? Sometimes though, I feel the memory of him on the bridge. How he stilled himself for a moment, folded his feathers in for once. Allowed the zebra part of his DNA to bend in close, sniff the lass inside the shell as she spring-tided herself riverwards. A finger puppet of undertow that swirled itself landlocked, became me.