by Timothy Loveday
she cannot tell her
husband that there are
maggots in her fanny. that
the maggots only feed on dead
flesh. that they have been growing
inside of her. that they come out when
she pees. in the isolation ward there are
piles that have spilled out of her knickers. and
it is my mother’s job to clean them up. something
she has never seen before. she says that they are
climbing up the walls, dripping from the roof. the woman’s
husband oblivious, doesn’t care. he’s picking things from his
teeth. how long since they fucked? the dead flesh, inside, consumed
and my mother on her hands and knees, scooping up the maggots with
their stench, heady, visceral, and the sick in her gut and the water in her eyes, and the pity she feels for this woman who hides her life from her husband, because fannies, fannies, are shameful things and women do not have wounds, do not bleed, and the boy who is helping her, a boy in his early twenties saying, this is disgusting, vile, i don’t want to think about maggots or old women’s fannies. as if at some point the hidden, perfect fanny, idol of his dreams, withers, dies, decapitates, destined for maggots, impenetrable, unpleasurable, ugly, nasty, sick, tired bitch… there are maggots in the blue scoop, withering, and my mother’s hands are shaking and this young man is complaining, and that old man, picking his teeth, she does not understand him, understand them, understand this, understand any of it, except knowing this is dying.
I went to a wedding
invited yet uninvited.
My invitation was late
or the last to be sent
or there were lots sent
late, or they’d simply
forgotten. Forgotten their
own wedding, but I went
anyway. I went because
I’d known the groom for
many years and he had
called me to say that the
invitation was late, that he’d
forgotten and that there were
so many invitations sent out late. There were other reasons. To go. To be late. It was his future wife. On the brink of hospitalisation. Self-harm. She couldn’t be left alone. And her eyes, gluey, were in need of an operation— I did not understand. Said I did— but didn’t. Had my fears. My speculations. History repeating.
And the sadness of a kinship fading.
We were hardly friends. This was guilt.
I’d been forgotten. And there was sickness and she was softness and I was the hard edge of the past. It went without saying. So I got wondering, politely agreeing, how many friends did he have that put their hand in a cool basin of his watered
down blood, watching as that red cordial
circled in the sink, gurgled, swallowed, disappearing,
asking why does this look like red
cordial? was it the heat of the water flowing?
or the flesh of his wrist softening?
and where exactly did he hide the razor blades?
I can’t remember the stink. There was a stink. I remember one. I just can’t remember what it smelled of.
The wedding was grand.
It had all the elements.
It was light-hearted and bright, in a
woodland clearing, with twenty foot
pines, and stars of blue skylight. The wind was cool and our suits holy.
The women’s legs, prickled, and they held their purses, water bottles, against their jiggling bellies. Laughter and hair, shiny, oily, large. Wrist watches. The finest of our cheap, gold jewellery. Teeth sparkling and chattering and moving in mouths of such action and delight that my anger was abated.
And the tunes, they were charming. Slow. Little folk medleys. The voices harmonising. Men. Women. Broken— giving up what was left of their love.
The canapés, too, were delicious. The main B+. And the waiters truly endearing. With their blackened teeth, their car exhaust laughs, their half-ironed shirts, their misfitting trousers, and their hands, the hands of hard-yakker fencers.
It was surprising to see these men in the middle of exhibition, romance.
The celebrant, he was English, funny, charismatic.
Almost certainly, without knowing, I knew, he’d grown up in Cambridge. It wasn’t outrageous— he wasn’t pompous— but I could tell he owned a pact of Pomeranians and was the first homosexual to marry under the Marriage Equality Act. Where did they find such a man? Handsome. Softly spoken. Comforting. Lyrical. Smiling. He was the school councillor you fell in love with.
I wanted to get up and congratulate him— what a performance!
But his beard was so distracting. His beard
was nothing I’d ever seen. So well kept
It was apparent he was born with a beard
— the lines, prenatal razor blades.
Yeah— they were back. As he was saying his vows.
As their love was coming out of him, an incantation, a curse
or wickedness. He always sold himself. Love was all he had to live for. He’d die for a woman, before he died for himself. And then, too,
he’d use that woman as an excuse. For dying. None of it. None of it. Had forced him to grow.
None of it. What was that smell?
I hadn’t been at his first wedding. But I had fallen
in love with his first marriage; with the first woman he had married,
and the man he was back then, believing
their lives were everything that young
couples were meant to be, funny, generous, kind.
Their love was a living energy. Even, one summer, saving— god, I don’t even know what I was saving for anymore— I spent in a tent in their backyard, and the backyard was very small, crammed with trees and the gumnuts rained in the wind and there was a couple, in the apartment across, who were always fighting. Their fights vicious, late-night. And I was young and jealous and couldn’t sleep and the sun hated me, and my tent it smelt of sweating books because I sweated, badly, and my books, they were my only company. And that married couple, that first married couple, they would buy bags of potatoes just to lob at my tent, disrupt what little sleep I got, from the comfort of their backstep, laughing, laughing, living the love I so envied.
It had turned out that they weren’t having sex. Hadn’t had sex, in almost a year. That their sex life didn’t exist. That she only wanted to fuck when she was drunk and he was asleep and he only wanted to fuck when she was out getting drunk.
It was a sad little affair.
But now, he’s remarried. Which suits him. The marriage type. Trying to stick it out. Encouraging. Devoted. Caring.
I just hope he wants to fuck. Not me. Her. His wife. I hope. He needs to fuck her. Drunk, sober. He needs to want to fuck her.
I cannot tell him. She hates me. I felt that hate while they took their wedding photos. She had sly eyes. As if I was watching an intimate moment. So intimate it was shared by everyone at that wedding. Why should I, the-pervert-the-drunk-the cheap-broke-lousy-friend, be watching?
This was a treat for the invitees and I was invited yet uninvited.
Regardless, that photo, those photos they were taking, of their wedding day, of that new married couple cuddling, they seemed so familiar, and they were familiar, because his first wedding was in the woods. Pines. Blue stars of skylight.
The shadows— the shadows of a smell I can’t remember.
The only reason I knew that was because, that basin of watery blood. That wasn’t it. That wasn’t all. There were bloody tissues, everywhere. He’d been at the act for days. And there were notes scrawled on scraps of paper— things so sad and self loathing that they reminded me of poetry. And too, empty bottles of wine sucked of their last drops (trust me, I tried). And the garbage, it reeked, was quaking. Clearly, his wife, his first wife had left. But I knew that. Went there as a favour for her. She couldn’t deal. Couldn’t clean it up. She had to go to the hospital to explain— say, look here, psycho-babble, I do not love him anymore.
This was emotional exploitation. Everyone was complicit.
Perhaps his suicide attempts were inevitable. Inevitable in the sense he’d never attempt while she was there. So she became his life and death. And dependency is one thing. Life and death, another.
I forgot about the wedding. Yes. The photos. Yes. I knew, because above the basin, with the blood, red cordial, was an image of their wedding day, of him holding her from behind, their smiles, their fine clothes, their happiness. Stuck there with chewing gum. The image ruined slightly. By stains of condensation. He’d been crying, cutting, masturbating. No doubt. The saddest moment of his life. The water running out. The red cordial pooling.
And sometimes I find it all, sitting in my gut, invited yet uninvited.
In a cupboard
under the sink
is where I keep
all my colour
I wrote a poem
but it isn’t
there are little
bottles of shampoo
in it I tell
you the things
to see in myself
and, on the shelf
of bright green soap
I mention my father,
for our destruction,
the plumbing are
of spun deodorant
After, it is
of you, tiny
toilet gels, untapped
I say these things
as if reciting
them will make
you any bigger
are salmon pink,
For I have tried
to build a force,
a presence, a volume;
even the branding
of the bleach
is a blue fire
a mirror without eyes,
a terror without a syllable
there is a magic
in this small space;
an element of forgetting,
then grasping, gasping,
but I am thirsty,
ethereal, earthy flesh;
unify and seperate
I often wonder
was this by chance,
my secret, kaleidoscopic
or are there insignificant
places, where the things
we do not know
how to love, blossom,
become their own,
creating colours that surprise us, torment us,
remind us, we are many
I say this poem
is for you,
it is not.
It is funny
Sitting in the morning
For the sounds of
I watch the raindrops
Fall like diamonds
Spectres in the gums.
The dogs barking
Full of raindrops
The ancient silence
In the bone marrow
Of our cities
Descends into my bed.
Foreigner. Intruder. Friend.
Everything that lays here now belongs to you. And you will do what you will with it. I am not your equal and my flesh is yours. If you want my stomach, you will take it. If you want my hip, you will take it. If you want my cock, you will take it.
I have read of you, heard of you, thought of you, and too, sadly, seen that shadow come across the claws of my hands, and the silence still within me the threat of reality.
Were my words too weak? and my eyes too gentle? and my lips sultry conductors?
Is there something in me, inviting?
I had not imagined it in my bed. Now yours. Had not imagined, but believed, in an unbelieving way. Asking, why and how did the silence consume you?
As if silence lacked gravity.
As if silence was not enough. On its own.
As if there was anymore to silence than its inevitability.
But then, silence. It was there. A weakness in the bones. Palpable. Pressing. A weakness within me, unknown. Like a heat in the city; the broken traffic lights, neurons fizzling in the dark. The traffic, over running. My hands doing nothing. My throat a pit of silence.
Your sweat, jewels of silence. Falling.
The silence, friend of your hunger.
And the noise of confusion, of punch-drunk shock, was silence, evermore.
It cannot change. Be unheard.
I’ve felt it, now. Seen it.
Weren’t we brothers, of sorts?
Or am I merely silence and flesh? And your charm, the silence we kept?
It isn’t fair to blame you. Entirely. It is as if my life was awaiting silence. Hot. Like a thousand skyscrapers with their glassy eyes upon me, and my throat reduced to dirt.
A heat so unrelenting, then, so damned angry, damned ugly, damned ancient, that the sadness in your falling voice I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, gave silence to a sound.
About the Author:
Tim Loveday is a rural writer/poet/clown-lark. His poetry/prose have appeared in The Big Smoke, Quadrant, Cordite, Text Journal, The Big Issue, Brain drip and Tharunka, and is forthcoming in Meniscus. He is a regular contributor to Hyperviolet Designs, an online music marketing agency. He fanboys over slobbering dogs, morning birds, motorcycles, and the craftless piss at his local sinkhole. Tim currently resides in Culburra Beach, traditional land of the Jerringa people.