Persephone’s Feast

Get up, because the draught has woken you again, make a thin, weak instant coffee and listen to the absolute feathery white static silence of the night. Try to be positive; think how lovely this breeze will be in the summer, as you rub the blood back into your feet. Check the cupboards and nibble a slice of hardening bread.

Back in bed, with the covers wrapped cocoon-like around you, wonder if today’s the day you can have a hot shower, or a bath without boiling the kettle seven times, because maybe by some miracle the plumbing your landlord won’t fix is better now. Wonder how many calories there are in the bread you’ve just eaten, tell yourself to relish the cold night because shivering burns fat. Wonder what you’ve become.

There’s an ethereal quality to the hours just before dawn, when the night is over but the day not yet born, it’s the counterweight to faerie’s dusk, when it’s dangerous to look in hallway mirrors. You know you should be writing but instead you’re thinking about Victorian seances and bathroom suicides and bad omens (before you woke you dreamed about a buzzard dying with its wings torn off). About bisexuality and lesbianism in bohemian Paris, about the likelihood of WWIII predicted in Buzzfeed articles, about dying your hair in lilac pastels and changing your name again. About the food you can’t afford (it doesn’t matter, starvation has 0 calories).

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When the sun comes, listen to the crowing of a rooster in someone’s back yard. Dress in cold clothing, staring at the freckling of peridot moss on next door’s tiles. There are bargain plums ripening in a bowl on the kitchen counter but they are not ready to eat; remember that time you bought a pomegranate and every seed was flawless and the most mystical thing you’d ever tasted, rivalled only by farmhouse eggs with the richest yolks of golden orange. Remember a house with heat and light and carpets, look around at the mould beginning to creep through another coat of nunnery-white paint. Wonder what you’ve become.

Call your partner, your sponsor, your friend. Tell them everything’s fine. You miss them, you’re still sober and getting to meetings, what are they up to. Block out the insistent whispering in your head by trying to act like a normal person. With going to the shops and gazing longingly at meat that won’t be reduced until 18.00 like a normal person. With running a tepid bath and lying there until your flesh is numb obsessing over torturous cold water therapy in Georgian sanatoriums like a normal person. With picking up the tablets that stop the worst of this putting you back in hospital.

Wait…Just wait for the quiet night to roll around again, when it’s just you and your ghosts in the Hades of this room, waiting for revelation between the clock hands, eating up the seconds like those pomegranate seeds.

Wonder what you’ve become.

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Flying in the Crucible

‘I’m not a mental health writer.’ I say, watching the water beneath me tangle itself up in silky spirals that vanish again in an instant. Beside me, he blows the air out of his mouth hard, frustrated.

‘You should be. Do something with it.’

I try to explain that teasing everything that’s beautiful about the world to the surface is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It was never about how the warped lens of my brain saw the way sunlight looks rippling across a shallow riverbed, or the way the ground in that blistering olive grove I visit year after year steams after the rain. The silence you only ever find in church, candle smoke and frost.

On Sunday, walking home at night, I breathed in the air as it turned towards a new season and instantly flew backwards 22 years to throwing open my grandmother’s bedroom window, amazed at the sweetness of the evening air as summer comes. I remember pulling in deep lungfuls of it as a child, high on its perfume, and even the fullest, most rib-breaking breath never being enough. The same drugged sensation came over me again on Sunday night; it was intoxicating, it was Midsummer, it was faerie, it was limitless possibility and I wanted to run and run over the fields until I slipped somehow through the veil to the world beyond I always secretly knew was home.

It reminded me of all the time I’ve been wasting, trying to be normal. Because I do want to talk more about the strangeness that blooms under my skin in secret petals, about always being impossibly Other.

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Honesty is a refinement of the spirit, a crucible that makes a molten puddle of your deceptions, but in this case I ask myself what good would it do. I worry; wonder if my words would disappear into the void of ‘mental health’ rather than remain standing as they are, barefaced. The way I see the world is warped, through sea glass and stained glass; lit by halos and moonlight on silver shillings. It’s the sound of doors to everywhere opening inside me, a thousand grandmother’s windows thrown open to let the night in. I don’t want my world to shrink to a word, would it? Why should I care?

Perhaps I’m protesting too much. Perhaps he’s right and I do have a gift, something to say about living with a mind full of watercolour. The fact remains that my name is stamped in black photocopy in doctor’s offices along the coast. I eat pink pills every night just so that I can get some sleep, but when I do dream, it’s of flying.

The Blue Shell

Hello January, bruised and freezing. Hello you North wind, knifing our lungs, pushing out the last, stubborn ghosts of the old year.

Hello first fire, did you see the the grate swept clean for you, the old ashes gone?

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2016 is the start of a big year for me; I know, you’ve seen those words on everyone’s blog over the last couple of days, I’ll explain.

If you’ve been following this blog since it’s melancholy conception, you’ve seen some writing, some photography. You’ve seen snippets of poetic prose and even the odd arty nude, but you haven’t seen much of me. Some would object – say the writing speaks for me, illuminates my character already – in many ways that’s true, but not completely.

Dive deep under the skin and you may find a graceful spirit, darkness blooming around the edges; a cool, complex Neptunian drifting in dreamy waters. I think sometimes that she is a my cosmic creative yolk, and I am the brittle robin’s eggshell trying to protect her, but too thin. Bitter? Maybe. Yes.

Here’s the blue shell:

I’m about to turn 30, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m supremely inconsistent and smudged around the edges and only a pinch of that salt on the fields can be attributed to mental health issues. I am constantly at war with something and do not know peace apart from those times I take myself off and revel in a remote landscape and utter solitude. Even then, wait for the tide to turn, and loneliness to start devouring my remains. I am a child of grazed knees and bramble snags; relentlessly bullied for being different. Too weird, the girl who talks to trees, who hears music when none is playing, who was so feral when they dragged her screaming to secondary school she didn’t understand how to use a sanitary towel, how to wear a bra, how often humans bathe.

Let’s move on from that place, for all its savage beauty. For all the dawns I saw breaking with the moon still hanging in a violet sky. For all the horses I rode bareback when the farmer’s family were sleeping. Let’s ease back to here.

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2015 was hard, terribly hard. There were hospital admissions and fear and death and hopelessness. A love I thought would never survive, the creeping realisation that time has spun on, and here I am still. Little redcap forever lost in the forest, with wolfish fur tickling the underside of her ill-fitting, transgressive skin.

I’ve hidden my whole life; behind my unwashed hair, in shapeless invisibility cloaks, in plain sight with a bare face. I have crept into mossy hollows to lick at my wounds, the thousand knives a mermaid dances on. I think that this may be the year to stop hiding, to be as I wish to be; as feral as I please and as eloquent too. I will take pride in that something about me slurred across pub tables and whispered in my ear, at once magnetic and repellent, the desire to plunge your hand into a nest of beautiful snakes.

Welcome to a New Year, lovely readers.