Thursday, 25 January 2007


crooked rib 5 is beginning people
i wrote this in london. it is weird, i don't know if it way pretentious or good. life is hard!


Do you think youre strong enough for this? Do you think youre brave enough to hear what I have to say?
Then you are a right one, arent you?
Look what I have here. Look, I tell you. Lines of shelves, bottles of secrets, stoppered to protect those such as you.
I dare you to listen.
This one. This one here says: Look on my works ye mighty and despair.
Is that right? You dont need to check it?
And here. See what it says here? Read it and weep my child, for Ill show you fear in a handful of dust.
Watch this one. This one is just for you.

There was a time, she says, twiddling the tissue in her hands, threading it through her fingertips as it becomes more ragged and frayed. There was a time, she remembers it well, when the hurt was raw, when the pain was unbearable. She stumbles at the word. Un. Bear. Able. It isnt the right one. Too. Much. This language, she considers, may be too little.
It seems so long ago now. So long ago. But always there, carried in her breast, a reminder of the time before, if never quite concrete, if never quite solid.
Shes looking at you, right at you, right now, to see if you understand. Of course you dont. She hasnt explained it yet. But maybe you are beginning to, even before she reaches the crux of it. Maybe you have started to guess, or tried to pick a moment of you to insert into her story. Maybe you can give up right now, smug with understanding.
Listen to her. Shes trying to tell you. Im just the messenger. Shes going to tell you about the time.

She smiles apologetically. Its harder than I thought, she admits. My mouth keeps forming into clichés. I didnt expect that. I thought I was unique.

Reassuringly, all the big ones are clichés.
I love you.
I hate you.
Your eyes are like stars.
How could you do this.

She smiles again, more relaxed, nods her head slightly.

Youre thinking right now how if you were telling your story, youd avoid cliché. Youd be original. You would succeed in uniqueness. Well, I have a bottle here that would tell you that all great art is imitation, and all the best writing is stolen. So hush up and listen to her. Shes telling this story. I just brought it up.

It began, she says loftily, it began like all great stories do, with a once upon a time; with a Marley was dead, dead as a doornail; with a whan that April with his showres soote; with a Mrs Dalloway decided to buy the flowers herself It begins with a birth, maybe to end in death or marriage for who can tell in the beginning if we are in comedy or tragedy? Or do we always fancy ourselves a Hamlet, or you, sweet lady, would you prefer a Rosalind?
It began, she repeats, with wanderings, aimless and lost.
You sit up, a note of recognition. How do you judge this wandering, these aimless steps? Do you see in her the Baudelaire, in his pose of dandy flâneur? Or Orwellian tramping? I see you now, picturing yourself in her shoes, those high and strappy alligator ones she wears on her visits; and take yourself onto the streets, walking where you wish to go, walking how you wish to go.
PAY ATTENTION! Shes telling this story, not you, not I. Stop coveting those alligator shoes (which another lady wears on her trips to Sing Sing on a Thursday).

And so we progress, she resumes, so my tale continues.
This is the hard part, she mutters, this is the tricky bit.
How to keep it going, she murmurs, how to keep momentum.
Let me tell you of my pain, she asks. But how many times can I write it? How many more times can I pick myself up? Lying on my bed, stuck to my mattress insect like, a halo of salt water around my head and unseeing eyes staring down at meHow many times, how
many timesdizzy headed and stumbling, red rivers and streams running over numbing limbs, swollen tongues and bruised lipsHow many times, how many timesparalysis and I cant get out of bed today and my legs hurt and my head hurts and How many times, what world is this?
A woman wanders howling over moors, whilst her sisters hero wanders howling over moors, and in a nights forest the fairies play games on the mortals. In town and country houses women love the wrong men before the ending (but were not there yet) and fortunes are made and battles are fought and in the middle somewhere a bisexual prophet watches a loveless couple on the divan.
The middle catches you out, it happens before you know, and all those things you learn cannot be placed on a line.
It is more of a feeling, she tells you. It is more of a notion of the time. The time I am trying to tell you.
You are beginning to understand her story. Do you see yet what she is trying to tell you? Are you marching in her fine Hessian boots? Shes coming to her end.

And so I finish, she declares, like all good endings do, with a happy ever after; with a Reader I married him, or a lonely ride into the sunset, the survivor paddling across the ocean with crab apples in his cheeks, the bad times over and my limbs reassembled. The glaze gone from my eyes and the smile smacked on my face; to continue, to go on, click clack down the road in my alligator shoes to do it all over again.
This, she affirms, is my triumph. This is my work of art. To walk down the street to do it all over again.Did you want a tale of woe?Or a battle? Something more original, more unique? Something more than alligator shoes?

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