After The Flood

Entry by: Caroline Bletso

11th December 2015
Preachers preach, writers write, lovers love and goners be gone. We shared not a flicker of an impulse to go and yet we knew by the sight of the second moon warped like a silver dollar done over by a train that we were goners. So intensely became we goners we quit loving; you broke my grasp and crawled up the dune like a dog; I hugged my heart and was sucked by the undertow to the wall of water, to the dead yoke and lunatic scream of the mimic moon, away from instant and quite possibly painless annihilation at where the crest of the wave would give the shore a brutal smacker. The wave formed an arch over me, extinguishing the stars we swore upon, and I gasped as the momentous gravity of the swell tugged my body and I rose. I floated in seeming nothingness. I could not even think of you. I could not even think of touching the sand that clung to your wet back just now or trembling reaching to kiss you because my tummy muscles are weak and my stomach liable to hernia or lying in recovery for hours, you teasing worms out of my shoulder with your nails, your knee rested softly against my back. I could not even think of how days were warped by you, warped like the reflection of the moon in the wave that’s going to kill us, how all I needed was the love you gave, all I needed for another day and all I ever knew, only you, plus a small amount of water, food and sleep, so I could cope while gloved hands poked each day around inside me for stolen gummy bears at the sweetie factory and then when times got really tough we split swallowing my essence fifty fifty and once a month heated the contents of your mooncup on the stove. As I dipped a hunk of stolen bread in the red soup you watched me curiously, smiling and touching your top lip to indicate I had a red moustache and asked me, and I remember this quite distinctly, what kind of propaganda would offend a pigeon. What kind of propaganda would offend a pigeon, I thought, raising the bowl to my lips and tipping it to hide my consternation. I should be thinking, I thought, looking at you looking at me, and I was trying so so hard to think, peering at you with an eye as thin as the thinnest crescent moon, but instead a song got stuck in my head as I drank your blood: the way that you hold me, whenever you hold me, there’s some kind of magic inside you that keeps me from running, but just keep it coming, how’d you learn to do the things you do, and nobody does it better, makes me feel sad for the rest, nobody does it, half as good as you, baby baby, darling you’re the best, and then it was time I had to speak and so I said: The kind of propaganda that would most offend a pigeon would be a billboard showing an advert of the world precisely as it appeared directly behind the billboard, no slogan, because then a pigeon wishing to fly away would be liable to fly smackbang into the image and snap its little neck. And what kind of propaganda would most offend you? you asked, to which I quickly launched myself like a rat with wings into your arms and pretended to break my neck upon your breast, you laughing and dangling a toe in the stagnant water. What law ever said you couldn’t marry your cousin rotted long ago so when the river nearest you broke its banks and your house got washed away I happily entertained you, even though my ground floor was a lake. Oh the exciting water, all the microwaves floating down the road, we paddling round on overturned coffee tables like child pirates, then half-submerged in the toxic ooze, our bottom halves obscured, you reached out and groped me. Next the army came with their nuclear pumps and diamond-tipped drills and dug fresh sewers and soon we were left two awkward shapes in a fungal lounge. How numbing the flood had been. I brought to your mouth a kiss that wouldn’t fit, my mouth too firmly moulded by the last kiss it enjoyed, the same kiss over and over for four years until that telegraph wire snagged my wife’s ankle and she shot off downstream, wailing like a baby. I tried to tell you, it’s like the fable of the boy who fell in love with the tallest girl in class, much because she was most visible at the disco, and fearing himself a terrible kisser dedicated serious time and energy to improve his kissing skills, wanting to be expert before he kissed the tallest girl in class. So he rehearsed kissing his hand every night and when the day arrived when his kisses felt divine he approached the tallest girl in class and stole a kiss, but of course the boy was TERRIBLE because all he’d done was teach himself how to kiss a HAND really really well and she WASN'T a hand and didn’t have a hand for a mouth neither. (She had lovely chops.) He could feel it wasn’t right, but as the moon passed behind a cloud, them swaying in the highest swing-seat on the ferris-wheel and all the golden bulbs lightless as the water lapped the generator, the boy had an ingenious idea and swapped his mouth out with his hand and kissed the tallest girl with his hand, the hand who had had heaps of practise kissing a beautiful mouth, his, and so was v good and she was driven mad with lust. (It must be love love love.) Did you understand? We will never know. (I could not even think of how love warped the tallest girl so that I could nestle my head in the crook of her neck even after watching her stand deliberately on a vagrant’s groin.) Plus my mouth was large and wet and your kisses were suited to one tight lipped and dry, the send offs of my sleepy uncle, and you were so obstinate! you would not be warped, and I would not be warped, and I fear I almost broke your back cradling you like I held my wife, because she was a contortionist. It made me cry trying to wedge us together as if you were her shape. I am much too old to recalibrate my body, I would say, balling my eyes out, at least meet me halfway, and you would say nothing and grow more rigid and more unlike my wife than ever, which was fair enough I think as the sand rises in the air around me like so many flies hatching, lifted by the thundering magnetism of a wave a half mile high. It used to be I fantasised about us being dead together because it would be the only way we would think and feel exactly the same for once. I loved you so densely, dearly, but I seriously believed the only way I could ever hold a scrap of emotion that resembled one of yours would be if we were both dead. In thanks you licked my tonsils. (We’d both given up trying to kiss with our lips and bared our teeth like angry dogs when making love.) And then it was wartime; me holding my friendship hostage, a gun to its head, saying if you leave me now you’ll never take the biggest part of me alive, I will kill this friend you love (I'll never speak to you again); you refusing to sleep with me, and eventually we couldn’t even look each other in the eye for fear of catching sight of ourselves, not even in the sack where we were demons who keened like foxes and discovered astonishing ways of doing the nasty so we didn’t even have to share a bed together, I standing on the sheepskin rug off the bedpost, your face in a pillow saying you’d seen this contraption in a shop with tinted windows that would allow us to satisfy each other physically without ever having to be in the same house together. I am going to drown. But you are going to be annihilated like Tony Soprano like: don’t stop believing, don’t stop – cut to darkness and silence, his raised eyebrows brackets opening around a thought never to be closed. Did you flee knowing so much? I bet fearing death like a rodent has already drowned all that is human and useful in you, you with the wave behind you, the hairs on the back of your neck reaching out to touch it. Maybe you don’t even realise you’re about to be crushed. They say that in the instant before you bite the dust your life flashes before your eyes, but projectors need screens to project onto. If your death is behind you your life will come pouring out your eyes and go flying off into the night and you’ll never again catch sight of it, but if you’re like me trapped underneath an upturned bowl like a cockroach ready to be smothered by an inverse whirlpool as your life gushes out your eyes you see it again and again reflected back on the incoming oblivion, even as the water parts me from the moon and the globular reflection of its glow dissolves in a swirl and the air folded by the water and bearing down upon me knocks me to the beach and pins me to a rock-pool. Earlier the beach was a sandy beach because we were kissing on our beach towel and while we were lost in each other another beachgoer planted a red danger flag beside our parasol and penned on it the warning: people having sex, children keep away, and between sunset – the nuclear explosion in the sea – and the wave, we lifted fistfuls of sand and dropped grains on your navel, wondering if there were more stars behind the moon than shards on the shore. The wind blew some up your nose and the bitter backdrop in your throat put you in mind of all those years dancing with civil servants, snorting cocaine out their belly buttons and tricking away from them their pass-cards so you could throw bucketfuls of used tampons on the chancellor’s head from the gallery above, chanting: here’s a hundred tokens for ‘women’s issues’! what’s it going to get me, bastard? what will our blood buy? I see my reflection in the falling water now, stretched by the rush. I see my face many times small, one in every bubble in a vortex. (Not a moment too soon a hand reaches out and touches mine. Who’s that? I look. It’s you. You never made it over the dunes. You were sucked back by the spooky undertow. Or maybe I only imagined you scarpered and really you stayed beside me all the while and I was too wrapped up in myself to notice. You try to hold my hand as if it were the hand of your best friend, that little girl whose life got nabbed by a much smaller wave off Sennen cove, and I try to hold yours as if it were the hand of my dear departed wife, but my fingers are too beefy and yours are too bony and while we hope there’s enough weight in this, the heaviest wave to make landfall in human history, to mush our bodies together into a shape that makes sense, even as in death we will share total empathy in mind at last, we’re dubious. Oh God a Vanguard-class submarine gone sideways in the water is rolling towards us – its terrifying periscope! I can’t remember what the moon