There were days when she didn’t remember.
Failing to realise something was amiss yet knowing something was not quite right. Hesitation. A parallel tango of knowledge and its lack. It was a fog that came unannounced. Crept in from under the door. Like this morning. The parting of last night’s curtains. Letting in the light. Bright. The gold of the tea. In the porcelain cup. The one with the wide mouth. Light. Glinting off the silver service. Into her eyes. The sparkle anticipating a day. Signs of beginning afresh. Like a promise. Then the walk. To the mirror. Anticipation. The smiling at an image. Of oneself. Familiarity turning to despair. In a single particular moment. Of knowing. Not knowing. The eyes staring. At the rising fog. Unable to register. The image in the mirror. A face that stared back. But failed to see. Through the fog. Her face. No longer her own. The shutters were beginning to descend. The descent into the well. Always the descent. Each time. But never the same well.
Grey mumblings as if lost the clouds grey hesitant as if holding their breath grey walls shifting imperceptibly as if lost in a trance almost out of breath spinning letting go their arms legs hands stretching upwards as if where the head once attached now as if floating almost swallowed engulfed by grey walls shifting as if unable to hold as grey mumblings grow louder as if in spate the river grey waves lending muscle lending shoulder lending voice rising as if about to burst banks bending curving its grey waters spilling over as if about to first drown itself then the skies
At the edge at the edge of the echo then she said just above the precipice you know the one I mean the precipice near the rim do you know it the rim twice gilded its circles gilt-edged rings one above the other like suspended halos that an angel left behind attempting to meet as they hovered glowing in perfect symmetry lit by what remained of the trailing light as the sun departed as it sank helplessly it is said into sound that lay at the edge of the echo in all its purity characterised by the clarity of its radiating waves meet me there she said again almost in a whisper a whisper made melody made echo at its edge just above the precipice that looked down at the abyss from over the rim a rim no longer lit by the sun that had meanwhile set without ceremony in silence without a whisper or sound of any kind.
Clear then your throat. She said. Sing. She said. Sing the end of the world to me.
Do not remind me
how close she is
rank foul silent persistence
nor may I escape her
shadow in the dark nor
be lulled by her song
lullabies glorifying a sleep
the dangling of promises
of an afterlife
flowered by spring
promises I know
to be untrue
the words tainted sullied even from use abuse excessive
battered bruised unable to heal this wounded sky
are you there somewhere there. where my words may. just may. reach you. among thoughts. that loiter. refusing to bestir. rustle turn twist shake themselves. awake. out. of the numbness. or stupor. they find themselves enveloped in. or by. our yesterdays. staleness refusing. to leave. stench palpable. the dead had. tenanted the place. choke the tears. out of eyes. already red from. lack. of sleep. the need to stay. alert. stay awake. keep dreams at bay. distanced. fenced out. or in. remain out of reach. matter. of putting one’s hand. firmly on head. pushing. hard downwards. keep the pressure. stifle struggle. deliberate drowned. perhaps not. like something. that did not. take place happen. except maybe. imagined or just.
Excerpted with permission from Mother Muse Quintet, Naveen Kishore, Speaking Tiger Books.