This is an excellent blog post from my friend Abi See: characteristically insightful, humorous, intelligent, beautiful and engaging. You should follow her blog, which you can find here. https://abisbrainfarts.wordpress.com/
He needs no crutch to walk with, to be frail.
The mark of a man is not his armour, alone.
Or else, we’d pride the vanquished in chainmail
His worth, and not the victor wearing none.
He needs no crutch to bear him, to be hurt.
His most exquisite pain, though showing no
Sure sign, is not by means of this inert;
It walks with him, wherever he may go.
He needs no crutch to kick from under him
To have him falter in his seeming stride.
Though you might see a man of lithest limb
I swear, he walks on broken bones inside.
Yet this aspect, which might have made one frail,
Can but redouble all my strength the more;
And renders him the truest nonpareil,
The most deserving, in his silent war.
Not all of the illnesses we face bear physical symptoms. It is at times more painful to carry a burden in the mind, than in bodily suffering. This simple sonnet, dated in language and technique but sincere – to a nearly-Quixotic extent, I hope – is dedicated to those people I know who struggle on, despite all of this; and in particular, it is dedicated to you, darling, with all of my love. You know who you are.
Warm marmalade, draped over crisp cuts of crusts;
Tea sits in the mug, patient and wholesome.
Tall, cool orange in the glass stands entirely still,
And the newspaper remains pristine, inviolate.
Low grey light sifts through the glaze of the kitchen window.
The teaspoon rests. The sugar in its bowl
Would chime clearly, when graced with a glance from the butter knife:
But you resist temptation, and all is quiet, untouched.
It occurs to you, as the kettle comes full circle
In its ritual, toward a state of heated calm
And simmers soft to a state of drowsiness:
That morning does not break, but is broken in.
I wonder, what manner of creature am I:
Animal, human, dead or alive.
Am I conscious, inanimate, gentle or harsh;
Am I part of the future, or part of the past?
Was I angel? Or demon? A guest of a host?
Will I one day be everything, nothing or ghost?
Am I crowned in the mind, or the heart, or the soul?
Do I most feel what’s shown to me, or that which is told?
Will I grow older, or shall I be young;
Is this life of mine over, or has it begun?
Of the secrets I’m keeping, the one which I know
Is the closest, the one which wherever I go
I keep with me: I’m yours. Only you understand.
What is truly the manner of creature I am.
As the device completes the final murmurs of its
Pleasant mantra, the ritual proceeds to its
Second phase: before lifting the device in question
I place the bag – no, not loose leaf, but
A true tea bag – into the wholesome mug.
I scatter white grain, to sweeten its earthiness.
At this time, I handle the cradle of the kettle
To pour forth the sonorous, simmering water
And the white of the mug’s clean centre soon
Fades grey like a sunset in late autumn.
This, this is the fact of the matter: as I press
The pouch of tea leaves to one side of the mug,
It does not bleed out that rich, ripe effusion.
Nor does it seep out, soft and insidious.
Nor, indeed, does it flow like a slow fog, or mist.
Instead, it flickers outward like a flame,
Dark flames underwater, in plumes of silent smoke.
And before stirring it to equanimity,
While it’s still distinct, I bless the curls of bitter
Cloud, for the sake of the fine, harsh flavour they will bring.
An indefinite artefact, preserved in its own air,
Measured in dust.
Burnt-oak finish, smooth curves on the fine cusp
Of its basin, its crook,
The wooden handle, with its finessed weight
Is an instrument,
And it is haunted by the rusty and sweet smell
Of its purposes.
Left by the mantelpiece, in its own time,
Its taste of memories.
Sometime between my very last cigarette, and my very last cigarette, I placed the crux of it between my thumb and forefinger: I held the idea, drew circles in the air with it. I held you in mid-air, controlled like a fine blade: like a finely-balanced, exquisite tool, a scalpel. Drawing it across its own arc of motion to form an anatomy. Imagine the curvature of a straightened arm, and the context of an affectation is pose. Brought to relief, by transposition.
This design kept you for a while – kept you in diagrammatic exactness between breaths, between inhalations, between the smoke rising and then becoming a clear sky all above me. I drew you, and it pleased me. The very form of it was purposive, delineated and precise.
Even after I stubbed you out I would remember the vertices and surfaces. They came from the mind, and the mind kept them: I had traced you before I had even discovered the real presence of it. I traced your curves with my finger across the lip of a coffee cup. I weighed the fullness of it, in each gesture of my hand. So it was that I maintained you. Though you – whatever you are – could hardly know it, I had sublimated the very flesh, the bones, the heart of you. It was true representation.
In this way, I perfected you. The idealized is significant. The thought-of form need not exist, and I dwelt upon it.
So that, even after I had stubbed this out, trails of you outlined the insubstantial air about me.