Néant. With you.
Without you. Néant.
Néant. But you.
Where are the words, she asked, there is only silence.
Several moments ago the wasp had been going up and down the glass surface of the window whilst I was looking beyond it to a figure dressed in a yellow anorak, hi vis jacket, hooded sweat or some other kind of garment in a vividly luminously coloured fabric and now the wasp was struggling on the surface of a slice of pumpernickel that had been unsparingly smeared with homemade bramble jam from fruit which had been gathered in the autumn of last year when we had communicated with each other but failed to engage face to face.
I can’t see the words, a tone of dismay in her voice, there is only a blank page.
I wrote the words down. Emailed them to you. I haven’t spoken to anyone for three or maybe four days.
I get up in the morning. Put coffee on and light the wood burner. Then I read. Other people’s words. Sometimes I think about them. If it’s poetry, I’ll think about them.
I used to live with the characters of a novel when it was fiction. But now I don’t do that. I live with the ghosts of people from the Internet. Struck by how egoistical they can be and how blunt and rude they can be. It shouldn’t matter, should it. They are just deluded fantasists. Self proclaiming to be someone as far removed from their reality as you could possibly find.
So this. Néant
Silence without words.
Words that are read
Not spoken. Not a story told verbally.
Each night I would go to bed knowing that she was beneath my bed. I would open a book and read. Only a couple of pages perhaps. Then get up, remove my boxer shorts, go pee, wash hands and face, wash genitals, brush teeth and return to bed. Pick up a different book. Another couple of pages. Stop. Wonder if she was naked beneath the bed. Had she fallen asleep? Resume reading but after a couple of minutes think that I should be writing not reading. I’d put the book the book down on the floor. The carpeted floor that so badly needed vacuuming. Fuck how dusty must it be beneath the bed where I hadn’t vacuumed for months. I wanted to look. You don’t believe me,do you, about the woman. I wanted to look but I didn’t. And just as I’m about to turn off the light she says, read me a poem. And I do. Something by Franz Wright. Now read one of yours to me. I find seven scribbled lines on a notepad. I read the lines aloud. I like that, she replies. It’s about me and you, isn’t it. It wasn’t. I turned off the light. But the cat in your poem isn’t ours, she whispers.
Write me a poem. Not from your dreams
But from mine.