Cartography

by Miranda Spencer
Cartography

“And that was the first time I was in love- I loved girls and I wanted boys, like the man who died amongst the bleached bone white sands, unable to chose between love and life, and so I starved”

No. 1

Awakening, I saw:

The first thing I ever loved was a pigeon through my window, when I was fourteen and hated Juliet because she was my age and had killed herself

And where did that leave me?

Believing that gods were only in love because they wanted to take our curved ribs- if I was made from Adam’s rib, I was cracked

Maybe our womanly ribs were too soft to hold up our bodies, maybe we were bags of jelly scrambling for a foothold, our armour becoming our structure because it doesn’t work;

Our ribs never really protect our hearts.

It turned to watch me, curled by the window, waiting in the darkness like a shark.

One eye fixed on me, red like acrylic paint half dried, glossy yet faded, uneven

And that was the first time I was in love- I loved girls and I wanted boys, like the man who died amongst the bleached bone white sands, unable to chose between love and life, and so I starved

And so I loved

And I like to think it loved me back- but then again it was a very dusty window.

And I was a very romantic little girl.

 

No. 2

My mother:

She was all sharp edges, but delicate as paper, addicted to fire, determined to go down blazing up like a Japanese lantern

A woman who could walk in triangles and never leave the centre.

When she tucked me into my clean comforters, she whispered that there was no such thing as silence, and I held my breath and listened as my heart fluttered against my ribs:

After all our cages protect us and our traditions ground us. I was lost.

 

No. 3

I dreamed:

Once I went to a feast in Jesus’s castle and there was a table piled with food like presents and it smelled beautiful and warm and all emraldy- though I never smelled an emerald; it was what emeralds should smell of- but I didn’t recognise any of it so I sat and starved.

Jesus came up to me- yes, He does wear those sandals- and said it was ok to want to be a man and a woman all at once and gave me grapes nestled next to the canned beers in his fridge.

We talked for a long time about why castles are inconvenient, and He patted my hair and said that this was it and He told me it’s ok to be scared:

“I cried on the cross.”

He really was wonderful. He showed me the tattoo He had gotten because He was mad at His father- a tiny cross hidden by His ear. And He showed me His scars and they were small and unexciting, and I dreamt I showed Him mine although my wrists were at least five years too young.

I told Him I loved Him and He told me sternly I was too young to know what love was, and to tell Him in five years when I had decided whether or not to believe in Him.

I looked for Him but didn’t find him again.

 

No. 4

My room:

A dark place that never failed to surprise me

As if I had been walking in the dark for ages and had only just realised the sea had been crashing down on me on all sides

Monks and zebras floated on clouds in the walls, appearing in the paint sponged thick and chipping.

In the shadows, under the beds, there were always green hairy armed monsters waiting to grab me until I realised that my monsters were much more concrete and much more subtle

Frankenstein told me people are mirror faced and believe in what they reflect, and that love makes you crazy.

Dracula told me flesh and blood didn’t have enough bones

In the dark I cried

My salty sea blood throbbing in my eyes as I dreamed dreams that tormented me in an unfathomable way

Always, I fell

Sometimes I jumped.

Or I fluttered past ladders that spun in the dark

 

No. 5

Upstate, at the cottage:

I danced on the beautiful dock that sliced through the lake- submerged like someone had said

hey, hey, hey

I don’t have enough stone to raise my dock out of the water but fuck it

I can walk out to the middle just the same

So fuck it

I’ll build it anyways.

And he did.

 

No. 6

My mapping is done:

Remember when we were young?

They like to say remember when

but no, no I don’t

I forget because I was young and it is not for the young to remember,

I am not a hard-drive, I am pink icing and blue jelly

That bounces around because it can

Because it hasn’t hardened into bone, because it is buoyant and has no anchor to remind it where the ground is

Because I still have more to know than I have to remember

This is my protest; let me rust.

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