Today a cloud the size of a mill has descended and I am breathing its cotton dust deafened by the chatter of its looms.
You point at me making hand gestures the shapes of moons and mouths. You are the other side of the room, light from the windows shattered by stones and pellets, crow wings flapping out omens, calling us dead.
We might be dead today, if being dead can be temporary, we might have stopped the beat of our hearts as if a key could be turned, a machine snapped shut.
I watch your mouth form half-words, your arms slow-wave messages as though you might reach me.
we walked in the mulch of damp-trodden needles paths fallen red and broken
plank bridges with moss trees swaying above us bare and disorientating
we found one tree split open its wide wood legs splayed
cracked skin left dead
you watched as though you knew the strength it took
the breaking open of a tree
as though it was one of us
Saturday love on the brink
of ruining me, wanting more
than a kiss in the bus shelter, more
than a fumble in a back seat:
chaos and casual lies,
drunk wrestling in a party of coats
twists and tangles of hair
and fingers and feet;
nights wrapped up
in lager-stained kisses
the scratching of each otherís scars
in early hours back streets;
that slow rub into Sunday mornings
dawn pulling on eyelids,
life sliding into a cycle
of chip paper imprints.
I was the only Russian doll he ever knew. Found in his attic, hidden under scratched records, an umbrella with bent spokes and a jigsaw with five pieces missing.
I was the one he talked to. He told me how he wanted to kick off his work shoes, slip his feet into thick socks, boots and crampons. He wanted to feel his eyelashes frost with snow, tears freeze on his cheeks, and his toes deaden from climbing mountains higher than he could imagine. He told me he wished he could find a woman who might listen to him as I did.
He wiped dust from my Russian dress. The patterns were faded, my face worn, the scar deep around my belly. I wanted him to touch my scar. I wanted him to know the doll inside me, who slept on Alessandraís pillow listening to her sob for her lover; the doll inside her who watched a surgeon pick a bullet from her loverís stomach; the doll inside her who felt the monsoon wind of his last breath. I wanted him to know the doll inside her, inside her and the smallest doll inside, the last one.
I was the only Russian doll he ever knew, the one he twisted apart at night.
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