By MÉLISANDE FITZSIMONS.
gathers in the fabric, like a jumper falling off the shoulders, furiously, in the middle of power lines, rail tracks follow and sometimes cross. Every night, the helicopters fly over the city and keep us awake.
On the card I sent you last winter, a young woman is reading on a train and on the other side of the track a young man looks across, with the same book in his hand. We know that they are made for each other and that their paths will never cross, of course. I miss the smell of your neck at the end of the day. Your skin reveals so little over time, your words even less.
I repeat myself in mounds, in clods, in trenches, like a landscape that rustles until it finally explodes. I persist, perhaps beyond my strength, and you give me your Nothing. I thought we were on the same meridian, for a minute, a recall of the air we went through before we brushed against each other, in circles, like a long walk that surprises us at nightfall.
I would like to be invited into your bones, but you seem to be saving them for someone else. I am so awake in your dream that I could put my hand through it. It’s cold. Maybe you’re getting warm: I’m burning.
When I open the door in a trance, the key sounds like divination, burns my fingers as I push the door, blood falls in large drops, a big red map at my feet. Such an opening changes the contours, highlights the elegance of a well-made hem, drips right down to the heels. Please give me a sign, a sense that I am finally home.
We were newlyweds, you touched my arm. The key falls to the ground, I shake it, hide it, rub it. Then I hear your voice in the rain. You have come back after a long journey, barely recognise me and say where is the key. I try to kiss you, you grab my hair, and I feel the edge of the sword graze my neck like a pretty necklace. Dawn is here. The dust rises in swells, thunderstorms move heaven at us, a sign that I am safe and that you will soon be dead.
In this sulphur-blue, fluid night, currents pass by in which the word river slips and gets lost. Pain steals dreams and memories. Feathers make me thirsty, and I want to lick the puddle the prince left behind after the storm tonight. In the silence of sleep, everything becomes sacred, but there is nothing white about the night. Pain is a restive sister that falls on me in large sandbags. I will find the name of the dream bird, because dreamers regain their memories in the end. Hello, Babylon.
In the half-light, candle-only lit brass, I touched his wrist and looked away, my heart gave way quietly. He doesn’t know that I am princely too, one can tell by the way I open car doors. I see shadow faces on the ceiling, a furtive deer print, a sunfish disappearing in the depths. I blow gently like a starfish, breathe out tiny bubbles of air and sand, and hear dishes clattering in the kitchen. What animal am I going to moult into before I kiss his salty mouth?
— after The Ancient Mariner
Curled inside a Scottish beach the sperm whale fragments: one hundred kilos of ropes exposed to sunlight, stomachs: shopping bags, cups balled up and eventually carried off on a separate stream in November 2019.
Plastic lines the Sound like confetti of delicate lace. There is clearly a flaw, yet its synthetic contents are so light, ranging from mauve, burnt-green, copper obsessive iron-orange to Venice Beach blue that it is infectious.
Our priority is keeping our crew safe, healthy, cared for and informed. Do not video your coworkers taken off the ship in ambulances. I repeat: do not video your coworkers taken off the ship in ambulances. We are still collecting information on the scale of the outbreak. Food on board seems to be running out, all flights have been barred. Your contract has just been terminated. There are people sicker than you. Stay where you are. Call the advice line for help. No one answers the phone, no one ever comes.
The sea has only unreliable, reformed borders of reflection, and repeats herself, tone deaf, heavy.
face her open mouth, driven by the sound of her battles, an enemy that comes upon us armed when
rises, yet still find so hard to resist.
A plastic soup of: lego bits…curtain hooks…fishing beads…roofing screw caps…razor parts…bungs
stoppers bob along to wash up on the beach. Storm drains and landfill sites pour their sins into the sea. We can always take photos and disposable notes. In real life, we are miniseas, our tears mini ponds, an excessive species, our bodies like water unused, unsung.
Refugees as mayflies fluctuate on an unstable piece, trapped, a single day of life: the price of survival is silence, unnamed. Inside the boat we had a really small infant, he was suffering from fever and his father was like, praying to God. He brought a bag of balloons and he started to blow them one by one. We were like, watching them, like bubbles in wind. The sea is an open body wounding. Sometimes I dream of fishtail, which means something terrible or marriage. The others use my arm as support, I feel the smell of rubber still open behind me and wood shrinks when rising fallen people wide-scream in the big waves, the balloons are stronger than us and will survive.
We never know where we are with water, the beautiful skin of water. An almost available lover, yet
unstable, we expect him to behave but he is constantly broken, unruly, disordered, everywhere: small fires are commonplace.
I write in blood, like a prisoner deprived of pigments and witch oils. I bite my arm, suck the blood,
the wound hurts like water burnt, an awful red. The drama of the Mariner is paying attention to the
wrong things. In my narcotic wilderness, I hear the skylark sing, a high, uncertain pain that passes light
From land to land, the spirit slides when I move my lips. The pain persists, until I tell my
Mélisande Fitzsimons is a French poet and translator who lives in Plymouth. Her work has been published in the UK, US, Australia and France. Sirène was published in France in 2018 and her first collection in English, A Language of Spies, was published by Crafty Little Press in 2019. She is currently working on a series of prose poems inspired by fairy tales and myths.