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Portobello

April 4, 2017

This is by my beautiful student and friend Beth, who helped clear out my London flat today.

 

 

 

 

Flat is cleared out. Fuck you cancer. Fuck it. Love you Jessica Berson x 

 

Portobello - for JB.

So let's talk about ghosts 
And where they breathe and where they go- when the body has promised that it's time to dip the lights low 
Last week you told me something in a message that made my blood drain white:
(that it's the tumour that holds you upright and keeps your spine together)
I wish today had been better weather:
I left your umbrella on the hook just hanging tethered - just softly there forever- just softly there:
I like the idea of you keeping someone dry and warm even when you're not there.

Your long dark hair caught in the brush- dark reeds caught in rush and river lock- I stepped inside, stopped and tasted dust blocked, opened the window's gaping mouth in shock- the spaces of your home inside my bones-
I kept your jumper and (it's arms wrap around me) and I kept your scrunchie-
(It cuts into my wrist) and it reminds me
Of being eighteen when your arms were my lifeboat and they stopped me from drowning in that dark unforgiving sea- in that endless glittering blue:
You taught me how to put motion into my pain - how to make the ache bend and move - 
But 
Today- the post office was packed and there was building work outside - we put your things into a box and I felt my heart slide into my shoes- I had to fill out why we were sending this package to you- 
but there wasn't an option for this 
so I just ticked 'gift'
Even though there was no joy in it- 

I had to peel a drawing your boys did for you off the wall- I held them once when they were babies-
Now they are boys they are boys 
You are their mother
There were painkillers scattered everywhere
You told me in that bed you had the most terrible dreams
I imagined you looking up at that ceiling in the smallest of hours
Picture glowing like a rainbow smacked to the wall: tearful and tired:
Hand clenched around the blankets 
Dreaming of sleep between the fire
Dreaming of sleep

Where do you stay when you are not here?
You were not in the curlers or the containers or the cupboards-
You were not in the books or the sheets or the wardrobe-
Where do you stay when you are not here 
Where do you go, where will you go

I can't wash my hands today
I got some of your pen on them in the knuckles crack and fold-
I poured your old cream with its thick skin into the bin-
It splashed my hands
They smell curdled, blue skinned - old.
Everything is changing
The sky is changing
I walked the carpeted steps down to the pillars of your door
I'm sorry I can't give you more :
I would spend the rest of my days flat on my back like Frida Kahlo -
If I could just give you my spine to buy you more time to see your boys grow:

If every person you ever taught gave you just one tenth of that movement back- 
I'm sure you'd have enough power to dance through at least three lifetimes and back-

I still don't know where ghosts go-
I don't think you'll ever be one-
Everything about you is body and core-
Nothing about you is absence- there is no negative sum- 
You are a bolt that slices through space;
You are movement and more but
In this moment in your house
There is a
Perfect stillness:
And
It
aches.

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