Centre Cannot Hold
And you spin and you spin and the little girl at the end of the skipping rope screams with excitement and holds on for dear life as your arms start to fill with lactic acid and your muscles fatigue but your grip is locked so tight. The worn grassy playing field under her feet starts to disintegrate and spin away from you, the peeling white metal goalposts collapse into three matchsticks and soar away over the church roof one of them catching its toe and flickering uncontrollably in the skinny light, the advertising hoarding with the triangular display that lets you see three separate images over the course of two minutes recedes until it is but a pixel, the TV transmitter on the smooth back of the highest hill in the county takes off, the one with the pulsing aircraft warning light that you can see through the mist, reaches the required velocity to leave the earth's atmosphere, goes into orbit around the moon, the skies darken and the air is whipped up, faster and faster until the sun is obscured and a hurricane revolves around you. You are the eye of the storm. Somehow this feels like a new equilibrium. You ask yourself whether the world should be this chaotic, constantly in motion, the furthermost, most extreme particles slamming into each other creating chaos and confusion, whilst you stand in the centre trying desperately to hold on because you know that in the end it will all stop. You will finally be at rest and the rope will fall to the ground without noise, the little girl will walk over to you and throw her arms around your shoulders. You will pick her up and you will be surprised to see that the ice cream van is still there, although it only sells one variety. You will buy her an ice cream cone, with a flake, with extra strawberry sauce.
Bring back all the memories
Swing on in with me
Wrap them in a ball of twine
And never let them leave
Tear up all the photographs
I shall tell you how it went
Take a chair and pour a brew
Ill show you what they meant
Touch and squeeze my weathered face
Stroke these labrynthed wrinkled paths
Share then what is whispered
And ill answer what you ask.
I pass you on this twine of mine
First encase some tales of ours
And throw it to the skies above
Let it dance upon our stars.
Then pick out any glow you wish
Unwravel every nook
But replace each strand there after
For another one to look.
We were a chaotic centre
We were eachothers tales
We are involved in many
We are these endless trails.
I stare at your face trying to gauge your meaning. The political system, your own state of mind, the engine of this car you’re driving or the earth itself? I won’t ask because I decided, nearly a year ago, to never let you know how little I understood you.
Which was either madness or genius, I won’t know until I work out which is true of you – madman or leader. I won’t let myself dwell on all those who proved to be both. You are one or the other and I am whichever’s left.
It’s one of those nights when it’s easy to believe the world has ended and we’re the only ones left alive. I used to have that fantasy when we first met. People kept saying you weren’t good enough for me. If there was some kind of apocalypse they’d realise how handy it was to have a man who could build things, defend himself and me, start fires with bits of wood. If the world as we knew it ended I wouldn’t have to justify choosing you.
Instead of ending the world you transformed yourself. You took degree after degree, clawed your way up ladder after ladder. Now I feel as if it's me that's lacking, holding you back. Even your accent has lost some of its gravel but what else have we lost?
We’re not alone tonight there’s a lorry up ahead. I glance at the speedo at we swish towards it. You drive so smoothly I hadn’t realised we were doing 90. Why are we going so fast? What’s at stake here? For months and months I’ve felt as if I’d been possessed. My body is sluggish, my mind syruped, obsessed with trivia it would never normally hold. I used to be super-sharp, witty, fit. Now I think of myself as bovine, always chewing, slow to think or move. I am afraid this state is permanent, that my true self has been squeezed out and it’s your fault. You wanted me docile, hobbled.
It's you who diminished me. You kept showing me images of how much better our lives could be. You kept a constant check on my health, my activities as if I wasn't adult enough to run my life. You stopped me drinking or taking anything, even painkillers. Nothing could pass my lips that might magnify me enough to fight back. I wasn’t supposed to get angry or depressed. You were forever shushing me. You tried to stop me feeling. You acted as if our future had nothing to do with me, as if I didn’t own my body. It was something to be used, ruined and thrown away.
I hate you. As we pass the lorry I scream as loudly as I can. I'm sure the driver hears but he looks at me, at you and his gaze drops. You don’t take your eyes off the road but go even faster. You’re trying to kill us both. You come off the motorway and the car slides and the wheels screech as you corner. I join in, putting every whiplash of fury into a sound that expresses how frightened and helpless I feel. This road is heavily wooded either side and looming shapes flash by. I know they’re nothing but my mind is full of wolves. I am in the middle of nowhere with a madman who’s taken over not just my life but my mind and body.
You turn the car again. I hold my breath and everything else trying to keep myself intact, trying not to let go of what’s precious to me. You stop in front of an enormous building. The lights make me blink as you get out of the car and come round to my side. You open the door. I shrink back into the seat in dread of what's coming next. The seat is wet.
‘It’s alright honey. We’re here. You did it. The centre held. Let’s go and have our baby.’