Keep Art Alive :: “My Home is the Sea” :: Art by Clare Elsaesser

I’m changing my name just as the sun goes down,
walking away like a stranger.”

Patterns made of water drops
by me

The water runs. I prop myself against the door, holding it shut, knees tucked into my chest. I breathe in steam. I watch it pool and turn to drip drop memory. It tries to flood, to leak out, but ends up just like me now, immersed in the closing credits of a dream. I finger paint a nonsense language around the bathtub rim, running my fingers through them, crossing out confessions, staining my skin. I watch as the patterns spread, placing signals, pointing to my own hands.

The lines on my hands are supposed to tell a story, they say. They spell out promises, escape routes,  twists and turns that make up a broken pathway that may lead far from home. I wonder what would happen if i carve the skin, slide the razor across my palm. Can I mark my way to freedom? To disarray? Can I fill it all into the last moving truck load, take you along with me, trace you into me to ride along a cross-country change. But, you know the cards would still find me, the fates know the way, the sweepstakes calls always push their way through. even if you  changed my name.

i pull out the picture again,try to search your sun squint eyes. Am I still in there, reflecting off pools of timeless desire? This. All of this. I thought it all had washed away, spiraled down the drain, out to sea, and beyond. Yet the words still ring in my head. I still see the broken pieces we left there. I watch them when I close my eyes, see them scatter into dust. I can still make out that morning, the two of us side-by-side, sat together on the side of the road. We gave each other temporary tattoo resolutions, one of those you go your way and I’ll go mine kind of goodbyes. Did you know I saw you look back around, just once. Did you think I had turned to sand?

My body sinks beneath the surface now. The bubbles tickle my nose. My breath it goes electric, senses switched up to catastrophe, my pulse beating to a rhythm of youthful declarations. I’m not that girl anymore. I sing it out to the water logged walls. I’m not so quick to leap into lips and lashes, to twist myself inside out and backwards, open so wide that I’m nothing but gaping emotion. I am no longer that blue streaked tragedy girl. When she comes to call on me again I try to drown her in the bathwater. Like now. I pull myself out of it clean, new, dripping in denial.

Come lie next to me here on this slippery tile. Put your hand in mine. The paint remnants will bring to life your caramel coloring. You can read off the edges of my skin, watch as he words collapsing, leading. misleading. These are just my truths wrapped in pale pink paper, my adornments of silver, tied on by velvety ribbons of fear. You used to hold my box of messy indiscretions, my pretty dressed up issues, torn up and ragged. You painted over them, made the breakdown in me something beautiful. I’d be lying if i said i didn’t miss it. that I didn’t miss you.

I’m not sure where to step next without falling. My body dries. I feel colder, older, lost between the recollected wonderment of what if, and the familiar echo of responsibility. The should-do lectures that link arms and spin circles in my head. I know we used to dream these dreams together, blowing sugar sweet bubblegum kisses to each other, in sleep, swapping secrets, confessions, murmurs of love. Even in the throes of bitter slings and arrows we still connected, without the need of words, our own transcending language, definitions. You and I never made sense at all.

Last night in a dream you asked me when happy enough became enough. I said I could ask the same of you, babe. I could ask the same of you. Maybe we traded in those fleeting moments for all these marks of adulthood. Maybe we let go of desire because it left too many permanent scars. It wasn’t me who let go first, I say. It wasn’t me who built the wall of impossibility out of so much fear, the one you peak over sometimes. leaning forward, throwing a daisy at me, handing me a lollipop, donning the wings of karma’s change maker. I pretend to not see you, to look away, but I know you know. Your name lingering just below the layers of what everyone can see. You still reside in the curve of my spine that always bent a little farther at the sound of your voice.

But, climbing up walls cuts my hands up. It leaves them bloody and torn. And these glimpses of freedom I see, they make my stomach burn, like all this caffeine, filling me up, adding to the vacancy within me, prolonging my insomnia fixations. In the middle of the night I lie on my left side, my eyes to the wall, counting the steps along my rib cage, counting to turn my heart away, to block the sounds. But, I hear you still. I hear you still.

You tell me I’m your Daisy. I say, well you’ve always been my Troy. Maybe in the lyrics we can find our way to being okay, because music often speaks in ways that words fail to do, and those who can speak to me in song, who accept that I do the same, more than not, those are threads I cannot cut so easily; even in the absences, the evolution, love can be defined in vast arrays of feeling and finalities, in leftover forevers.

This might read like denial. My resolve may seem like one more attempt, but really it is just the recognition that life is beautiful. and I’m not letting go of this, no, I’m just choosing to hand you a pen. I’ll hold the paper. We’ll rewrite the views and perspectives that we both see. I think I’m ready now, ready to open the door and step into the moments and mayhem, memories renewed, with marks still on my hands. But, my eyes are clear, I can see again. Sometimes it takes an ocean’s distance to clear the air between you and I. Sometimes it is just in a line of a song.

The Seventh Stranger :: Duran Duran

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