2 / calla lily, gladiolus, alstroemeria

Hello from September—there are a few of you now!

Since the last bouquet, I have written the following:

As a result, in this sophomore—much shorter—edition of the newsletter, I offer up a few pieces also penned and collected in this in-between time (but thus far unreleased).

A phrase from the Notes app of my battered iPhone:

[...] andwith a kind of mutual tendernesstaking your bloodied hand, pressing it to my mouth.

A line from a poem I’d love to share in full, but which I won’t, because I’d like to see it published (more traditionally) somewhere soon:

[ Who do you look for in a crowded room? ]

And a small passage from a novel I really oughtn’t be writing until my postgrad research is finished (however! I am a big believer in fingers in pies, and also in letting yourself be happy—even if it also kind of means being stressed):

‘I can’t believe we’re almost there,’ said [Redacted 1], reaching for the raspberry jam.

[Redacted 2]’s eyes followed the movement, followed her hands as she procured the open jar, and, as she settled again—her knife plunged into the sweet, bleeding heart of it—he flopped his head down on her shoulder, dark curls nestled in the curve of her neck. There was something so easy about the gesture, and so natural; an Impressionism to the image of it, to the two of them there. I imagined the artist’s rendition: thick licks of paint, each brushstroke lipped, the ink of his hair, and her eyelashes, the shared red of bitten mouths, and the soft warm beige of the cottage. Yet it was [Redacted 2]’s head on [Redacted 1]’s shoulder at the breakfast table, and part of me felt embarrassed to have seen it.

I’ve also got two further explorations of intimacy, or lack thereof, to share with you—because why not. They’re not related to each other, and they’re currently somewhat formless, in the sense that I don’t know if they’re monologues or if they’ll go into some larger prose project, but, hey! Take a gander!

This one’s about the richness of minute moments (and isn’t endorsing smoking):

[...] I didn’t smoke, but he did, and in the back of my mind I imagined the intimacy that might have been struck up if we’d had the vice in common. I imagined myself, cigarette between my lips, unlit but held taut, somehow substantial, and I imagined him offering to light it. He’d spark the lighter, hold it up, and cup the space between our faces to keep the breeze out. I’d lean forward, and so would he, his face half in shadow for the darkness of the evening but flickering amber for the flame between his mouth and mine. He’d smile. Easily—a pull of his lips. A no worries that preceded my thank you. And we wouldn’t have had to kiss. I’d have been happy with the cigarette and his hands and his smile. With the help he’d given me. With that mutual lean, and the eye contact, and the comfortable care I imagined feeling in it.

And the person being spoken about in this one probably wound up listening to my favourite Bonnie Raitt song:

[...] and, as much as I wished this weren’t the case, all I could think of when she touched me were the other pores those hands had passed over, the people she’d touched who weren’t me, and of the people she’d wanted, of how little I must have mattered and would eventually matter, or perhaps even more terrifyingly: how much. And I couldn’t help waiting for a day when somebody touched me and all that thought went silent, the space filled with some other hum that rendered it wholly inconsequential; a day when none of the past mattered, because there was the present, and because I was so certain the future I wanted would include this person whose hands had touched others but now touched me. But there, anchored, rooted in the moment, I wondered how being with this girl could have felt both so tender and so leaden. It had settled like a thick perfume; I’d let myself sink into it, but never quite to contentedness. Never to peace. 

I don’t know that we could have holidayed together. I don’t know that I could have talked enough to fill those silences; to play melody over the depth of her breathing. I wanted to love that breath, that sign of life, skating over my ear and neck; I wanted so desperately to relish in it. Instead I found I wished the fan would oscillate. She was so earnestly intense, and intensely earnest—yet I couldn’t quite figure out the prioritisation of it all. What did she use her hours for? What uses did she think there were for mine—what entitlement did she feel she had to them?

Did she touch me, I wondered, as a reminder? Did she touch me as if to say I am here—perhaps because she knew the warmth could come and go so quickly? I wondered if I was projecting again. Doing what I’d always done, but from so much closer and with much more skill. She didn’t see herself as I saw her. We were both blessed and cursed.