Beneath the surface, I spit glittering vitriol in an acid arc around myself. These spattering thoughts blister words into the dirt: ‘Join me in lockdown… feel this grief for a past life… falter here with me, in this stuttering uncertainty.’
But there are those who continue to grow within four walls, plucking opportune plums from a laden bough and making life sweet. They barely stutter at all.
I, meanwhile, simmer in my acid bath, my skin growing thinner with every slow second. The liquid blooms rose-pink and rises.
At some point I should stand up and wade out, before too much of me is lost. But the burn is comforting and the return of full gravity is too much to bear.
I’m staying here. Hip deep in shed niceties, I pass the time by drowning well-meaning platitudes until they dissipate to nothing.
My night sky is scattered with heart glow – a bunch of flowers, just because; a birthday card with both sides filled; a glow-in-the-dark keyring from a long ago trip; a scribbled post-it in mother-tongue handwriting.
Over time, a light might fade alongside memory, a dull white dwarf then nothing. But another always arises in that same patch of sky, burning fierce with love.
One day, I’m scared that those dark patches will stay dark, as every note and card and piece of kitsch crumbles to dust, and she’s not there anymore to set the sky alight anew.
I will not live beneath a dark sky: I will seek someone who sows stars and together we will strew galaxies.
It’s been a while since we got to do this, you and me.
We’re clanking into gear, picking up speed, finding those tracks we’d neglected and re-railing.
There’s a beautiful flow when we get going. Clacking puzzle tiles that constantly shuffle and reshuffle as more information gets added, or new ideas nudge their way out of the bag and click onto the board.
There’s a game of hot potato afoot, email ping pong, a chance to make a tiny piece of the world as I wish it were. And this absolute focus and the desire to shrivel apathy into a puff of long-forgotten ash.
Ten o’clock is a carmine that has a mind of its own, eleven o’clock an aquamarine that I never quite mix enough of, twelve o’clock is a delicate pink with an unsuspectingly tenacious stain on my palette.
Daylight momentarily resists, then crumbles under pressure and feathers the bottom of a milky jar. Time pours into a stained yoghurt tub, pours out, pours in, pours out.
There is barely a moment spared for eating, cleaning, or rolling sore shoulders: every second needs to be channelled into pigment.
When the last of daylight has been scraped from the jar, the colours begin to warp.
The colours of the night like to deceive. Ten o’clock is a deep purple that looks black under the electric lights, I know eleven o’clock to be a light limey green but I can only see yellow, twelve o’clock refuses to blend smoothly, chunks of burnt orange floating in a tangerine base.
The canvas sits and waits for time to dry upon its surface. I scrub minutes from my fingers, seconds from beneath my nails, and an unruly moment from its attempted escape onto my shirt.
I discharge time from its monotonous polytone task, and release it to transform into other things.