I fill the world this way

by Aki Schilz

Some scribblings on a Tube journey…

What have I given, if not everything? The whole world, populated by ink-spots that dilate and contract like my pupils beneath your kaleidoscope lens, like those colourful pointillist dreams that move across the planes of your eyelids, in the heart-skip moments before you fall headlong into sleep, or forgetfulness. On the platform, a man whose shoes I can see but whose face is hidden is singing Jewish songs. There is no echo underground but the tunnelled train holds something of the ancient in the weight it presses into steel tracks, like firm hands pressing dough into a granite tabletop, like a lover pushing another into the sprung mattress till there is no space between the coils, no space at all, nor between the vertebrae he presses under his fingers, tenderly, but with a barely restrained violence; why is it we want to destroy the things we love? Hold them birdlike and broken and hurl wild prayers like arrows that break on the skin of the sky and fall like rain, rupturing the surface of the small lily pond you might have painted in a dream, once, breaking open and healing over like fever-kisses, here, between your murmured breath and my mouth stopping it before it escapes your lungs. Here, between the stretch of your neck and the shush of my hair, falling. We have made a space here. We have breathed it open and swallowed it shut, pressed its edges with our toes and with our fingertips, crammed lilies into the places where the light shone through in needled fingers, watched the light-space fill with rot we have picked away like cotton and painted onto our lips, our hungering lips that touch, just barely, what might be space if we let it, if we allowed it the time to fill itself out but we don’t. We can’t, or we tell ourselves we can’t; it’s too dangerous so we fill it till it’s brimming, till it’s swollen like the limbs of broken trees in floodwater and we watch it overflowing as we lie panting with the effort of it and heave ourselves up through the streaming and grab wildly at anything we can find; all our memories, the tattered edges of every almost, tearing away strips of days, fragments of rememberings – your left hand, sweeping crumbs from the edge of a chequered plastic tablecloth; the warmth of your neck in the morning when the light made leaf patterns on our naked bodies; a forest clearing, opening suddenly and your in-breath, shattering the silence; the clatter of a stream of silver bracelets across a glass-crunch floor at midnight; birdsong from high in a tree full of autumn leaves; your voice, in the hollow of my ear like a seashell pulling the tide, like birds pulling rain – we grab and tear and cram everything into every last space. Until the whole world is full with us, until every last emptiness is filled fit to bursting.

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