Ten Ways to Remember a Year

by proustitute

The mountain rocked like a clotheshorse you obscured my view     your breath reeked of the fact that you would stray     I did     we stood under its mass arguing over what’s on at the National Gallery how crude the sticky parts of sex are

Chrysanthemums lined the wainscoting that year     which country did I lose you in a lone drawn blind I snaked up hurling your convict’s prize ring from my finger out the window     you salvaged it in the morning along with a discarded but still smokable cigarette I took both

They painted the walls black and installed tracklighting bringing out the veins in the skins those severed limbs that populate any given Caravaggio murder scene      after I got drunk and sat beneath the queen’s Carrara petticoats     you weren’t bound for the cross but I let you have your way anyway

On the umpteenth trek across the pond I read poems shouting I was wrong dull telegraphing in wee hours for you were as fucked as I was     we read Akhmatova a different war entirely but by then we were on different shores my shoes long forgotten at the cobbler’s

I positioned him in the center of the Rothkos at the Tate Modern reds so sedate they suggested a suicide attempt     “I understand it” he said slurring epiphany then skulked off to finger an array of baroqe codpieces     I stared at those squares for hours but it didn’t come

A Pimlico summer I was dreaming of mountains without you     you entered the hotel room grabbing my hipbones they were gambles I won or I lost depending on what name you called me the morning after     your heat was spent by my body or a dream

In rooms in seasons the claustrophobia accentuated the rifts     we played out our regular tricks donning Duras sans the deed     by then we were too familiar too bored too us     the chrysanthemums didn’t offer solace instead we packed them in cedar boxes like effigies

I pawn the retrieved ring     knuckle still whitemarked by it somewhere in Camden Town     outside a fringe theatre a man pins me to a wall calls me dashing then draws blood     when he leaves pigeons pluck at the ring this stranger rescued I slip it stupidly into my cigarette box

Winter wreaked damage to the clocktower in the roundabout     we no longer deal in time our ghost town knew our rhythms were antsy even criminal     I made dents hands measuring seconds (the scenes we enacted) in snowpiles     I remember that I’d yet again poisoned the drinking water

Our last autumn we packed boxes lamenting how the city had ejected us some Eden     on the countertop beside the microwave and my expired passport a post-it note stuck to a print of Guernica read “I tried”     you could have been any man leaving everyone apart from me