Mouth’s Cradle

May 4, 2010 at 7:08 pm (Bodies, House, Out, Rooms, Sea) (, , , )

I once bought a pair of statues at an antique market. Just under a foot high, rough clay, light and hollow. The man behind the counter was called Peter. He knew me, and he knew what had happen to my boy, so he sold me them cheap. The Lovers, he called them. They were meant to be placed standing close, as if they were about to link arms or embrace; and embrace they did in that narrow old box Peter packed them in, all cushioned with curls of polystyrene. When I got home I put them either side of the fireplace. The grate was tiny as it was, and those two dwarfed it. They were so shapeless and crude, I think they were meant to be naked but I couldn’t tell which one was the lady, if there even was a lady. I called them Pepper and Illinois just in case.


He wasn’t a homo or anything, he just really loved Owl. Cracking bloke, all belly laughs and corduroy, round tum resting on skinny frame. Owl was kind enough not to mention his children, so in return he would never bring up the small matter of the fleshy fly food pipe filler found one afternoon festering in the heat of the wall cavity.
He had sat there in the plaster and dust, his thumbs kneading the moist tissue with a vacant repulsion. They were lungs; they were very, very small. Almost pink in places, patches of yellow dirt and rot mottling the left side where they had lain slouched within the pipes. This man knows that his body is soft. If he could only get past those solid bones, perhaps he could rip past the sinew too with all his strength, and then grope gently at the malleable mess of organs in his cage. Soft, soft, liable to give under his own bones. He holds the lungs cold and firm.
There was the slighted squelch as the tissue gave way under his nervous thumbs, he looked at the dented lungs in disgust and sank further to the floor. He had no idea how they came to be pipe filler, but then there they were, all fleshy and fly food in the heat of the walls. Staring blankly into the iron-grey of the fireplace, he gets to thinking about Owl. Perhaps it is Owl who put them there, an Owl from more innocent, vigorous time. Both the lungs and the blue baby boy were fleshy little objects of a more innocent time.


I don’t know whether it was sleep or madness or Owl putting pills in my drink again, but something made me look down at my chest with this kind of thud-wet urgency and I see it split.
I tap his shoulder, “There is a big gash in my chest and it is making my shirt soggy.”
“To be all sliced is not funny. Some things are funny, but this isn’t, even though it doesn’t hurt at all or anything. It just isn’t.” I pause, “Is it perverse to respect someone who is hardly respectable?” I keep my voice flat so that he will never know. He doesn’t answer, so I spit at him, “You’re perverse.”
“You’re naive.”
“Do you ever miss that stupid mermaid fuck by the sea, where is she? Waiting on a girl with neither a brain between her gills nor a cunt between her thighs. The brevity of your hope will murder you, little Pussycat.” He spits onto the sand. Owl crouches, taking a creepy crawly from under a smooth grey pebble and handing the squirmer to me. This one was a little like a worm. A small, wet theory that squirmed within the ear. I knew that really it could never wiggle inside my head, or tell me things I did not like, but I always felt like it might. It could. Stupid wee beastie. The worm never even entered my ear, not really.
Owl turns his back to me. He is facing a strange building, part pier part electricity pylon. It sprawls up and out into the ocean, all limbs of metal bars and green-grey planks of wood splashing out into the salt water, each bough conjured with astonishing momentum from the mollusced underbelly.
“What have you done, Owl? What?” I stare in horror, one hand pressed against my ears where I can feel the unbearable volume of something soft and supple wriggle behind my eardrum.
Iron limbs tangle and twist further and further out in to sea. It comes from his grey eyes, it comes from the land to eat the water, its boats, coasts, fish and oil rigs. Pepper and Illinois sit together upon the stones; man-sized but still statue shaped. They gaze this metal monster with their blank clay faces filled with sorrow, limbs thin, entwined. I look up into their crude shapes and I know that without the moisture of the sea, the rivers, their hope for clay children will turn to dust. With one last slow, sorry turn of the head, Pepper gazes at me, Pepper runs into the foam between the iron legs of Owl’s creation. Pepper turns to mud. The vague socket-shapes of Illinois skull twist painfully, a rough pallet hand clasped to the block of the chest as if somewhere within the solid earth, something has fractured.


He washed his hands until the skin cracked, scrubbed at his nails until the cuticles peeled back red raw. He drenched his fingers in soaps and oils and saline solutions long after the sicksweet smell of rot had left them. Pussycat knows that there is something soft between nail, bone, tooth and gristle. And he stares into the mirror. He sees the same old Pussycat he saw yesterday.
Taps flow soft chalk water into porcelain Pussycat leans in mirror-close forehead to glass eyes shut lashes grate against cool freckled cheeks lips part pale blue breath mist onto faintly steamed glass and mould the word – “Peter” arm raised over head inner forearm pale and cold against mirror rests upon fevered forehead Pussycat hides under arm and brows elbow level with ear with and with worm and he sighs he calls again “Peter” and fuck knows why.


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