Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the morning after

I count sixteen mosquito bites. Legs, back and shoulders - one exactly in the centre of my knee.

It takes two washes - a drunken shower at 5am when I peel off my tights and see the muddy tide marks on my thighs; a long bath today - to soak the stink of the lake out of my skin. In the tub, steaming with half a bottle of bubbles my legs are lobster red with heat and swelling. I turn the cold tap on with a clumsy toe and the icy water drifts up around me, blissful as falling asleep.

While I wait, I count my vices: caffeine, nicotine, booze booze booze. I can feel excess weliing up inside me, the nausea from a near permanent hangover. What am I doing to myself?

Outside, the sun is setting on a day spent in bed, nursing our wounds. Inside, the cool water subsides swollen skin and my legs look like legs again. I count the bites, touching my finger to them; tight red lumps, yellow, I've been scratching in my sleep again. But more than that. Red scribbles cover my feet and ankles, tiny cuts appear on the pale skin. What? Nettle bites from the long walk there in flipflops; skin rubbed raw from the longer walk home; skin grazed from the gritty, sucking mud of the shore.

My left foot. Still swollen from a slight sprain three nights ago, the tight bandage unravelled somewhere out there in the cold black. I remember splashing out there and thinking of the album my brother's band wrote, when they were living in a town of the same name - Black Water.

Was there a moon last night? Up close I could see their faces, count the bodies treading water, struggling in warmer depths. I left my underwear out there somewhere, I remember that. Will someone fish them out?

Naked, six or seven of us nightswimming. Someone pushed my head under and I froze, let myself float back up, too drunk to push up from the floor. Deadman's drift.


Jenny and I swim out, almost to the centre of the lake, shout and hear the echoes. On dry land the bonfire blazes, we head back, someone throws me a jumper, music booms across the field, someone flies on the swing by the Chinese lanterns.

People laugh at us baking dry by the fire, tell us we smell like swamp.


I came home with ears and eyes full of silt, minus my flipflops, legwarmers, panties.
I don't want to be here hungover, by lamplight, the football blaring in the next room - - I want to be drunk again, striking out across the water at dawn so silent, hand in his hand.


At 10:55 pm , Anonymous Esther Yes said...

marra. phoned you yesterday, left voicemail. hope birthday was smashing :) missing you tons. lots of love, estxx


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