“I, whom loneliness destroys, let silence fall, drop by drop.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves


Two for Tuesday: Peter Boyle

Tuesday late afternoon. Ungodly hot and humid, 94 degrees.

Missing Words

I don’t know how many things there are in this world that have no name. The soft inner side of the elbow, webbed skin between the fingers, a day that wanders out beyond the tidal limits and no longer knows how to summon the moon it has lost, my firstborn who gazes about himself when the TV dies and there is a strange absence in his world. I was looking for a great encyclopaedia, the secret dictionary of all the missing words. I wanted to consult its index and find out what I could have become. The sound the clock makes when it is disconnected and taken down from the wall but can’t lose the habit of trying to jerk itself forward. The look of old socks drying on a rack in the kitchen all through a winter night, hanging starched and sad opposite the wedding photographs. A word for your face when you know you can’t love but would almost like to try. The blurred point of merger between fresh storm damage to a house and the deep fissures that have always been there. Walking down the corridor to the front door with inexplicable elation in my chest as if everything was about to start, as if my love had just arrived, escaped from a burning world, and at the same time clenched in my taut wrists, my hands, the thin bones of my arms, the certainty that everything has long been over.

                   

The Unknowable

Who had children. Who died.
Who found himself lucky after thirty years
and stumbling home realised
it was a simple error.
Who ruled behind the scenes in the Department of Misinformation,
who was later conscripted
to underwrite Armageddon.
Whose hand was lost in a sawmill
and was met again as the strange dust
of a new-found galaxy.
Who migrated to the other world
but came home to bury the dog.
Who divorced and died of alcoholism
in the country town where destiny misplaced him.
Who topped high school, failed everything else
twice, married money, then slept through
the death of three children.
Who was invisible, became a wall, became a street,
entered real estate, bought a city,
retired into owning world opinion.
Who saw his son indicted for reluctance, shackled and maimed,
blamed for the colour of the sky.
Who inscribed his name in the old script,
the one no one reads anymore,
the one where things inscribe themselves
so what they are
reads itself back
in us.
Who was my shadow when daylight was.

                    

All images are by Japanese artist Tanaka Yoshikazu, who works primarily in woodblock and engraving.

Music by One Republic, “Au Revoir”

 

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