Tuesday, October 21, 2008

slow dancing in a burning room, a letter to Amz


___always
________it's
__________ Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves

______E E Cummings, VII from &, N, &: 7 Poems





Frances Tulk-Hart

Dear Amz,

my favorite thing about Slow Dancing in a Burning Room used to be, and still is, and always will be, the title. (as it was, as it is, as it will be). A fortnight or so ago, I came home from an afternoon walk to find that (though I couldn't recall the guitar riff) a sense of it had woken up and was playing itself inside me. Curious, I sat down and played the song out loud. I don't know what John Mayer is saying, I never have time to listen to him, usually I'm lost in the guitar riff and the song's title running itself over and over again in my head (with the So You Think You Can Dance routine not too far from implicit memory hidden - in the black veins and muscles under my skin - as though we all had it in us to dance this dance).

a few days ago, knowing that i was to leave Adelaide (and my piano), i sat and played through a whole stack of things just for the sake of it. One thing that came up twice (in two different arrangements) is an old song- from a long-ago production of Romeo and Juliet called A Time for Us. I'd never considered its title before, but it has a pleasant enough melody, and I always liked playing it. "A time for us/ someday there'll be". Perhaps experiences to the contrary of that notion (and indeed, Romeo and Juliet, the ill-fated star-cross'd lovers of Verona, would perhaps have hummed it to themselves for solace, but a strange miserable solace - like knowing cancer will win, but still humming it anyway) have with time made the title heavy for me. Experiences that have lined up a string of my dearest friends at the farthest ends from me (geographically)... others that have simply vanished into the caverns of memory and circumstance- once so near, and now, dear but fading. the piece itself i played without incident, but i stood up and thought to myself, shaking my head, there was no time for us. and for us (another us) the time was all wrong. and a third and fourth us - we had our moments didn't we?, weren't they beautiful and perhaps they'll surprise us all by reappearing one day over tea and cigarettes or arguments over whether muffins are appropriate at 4 in the afternoon or to pick me up, looking dazed and lost and half unalive from the airport. All that. a time for that. a time for love - in my experience always too passionate and red and moving at speeds that makes light blush.

the third piece of the puzzle was today, unpacking some boxes - incidental boxes, just things that were in my way, into the one set of shelves and closet that i have. i hadn't anticipated finding a card you wrote to me on my birthday... and suddenly, the three things came together:

slow dancing in a burning room
a time for us
with love, _ _ _ _ _

it is my sincere belief that nostalgia can kill a (wo)man outright - simply tear them out from the inside like a Halloween pumpkin. leaving a gumboot with no ankle. those few of us with intransigent memories, with perennial memory, with long-whispering dreams - for us, it is a hardest thing to manage.

and once they came together, they begun playing on one another:

slow dancing in a burning room: an afternoon- with pink underwear, after your shower, and my hands rubbing lotion into your feet and legs, and the colors of the afternoon shifting from dull haloes after the rain-cloud passed, to a gold that was so heavy it sunk to the floor almost immediately - sharpening the shadows by your bed, and finally, softening to a blue that joined hands again with the shadow, me staring through your hair at the alarm clock by your bed, for no reason at all but a time for us moment - one of the few - one of the only - one of the last - and one of the ones that'll last (too long).

and so papers were found and put into stacks. cards. photographs. old half-dried-up pens. and so clothes were smelled (mostly they were stiff from being washed and not worn, but smelled stale, and so i put them back in the laundry basket). Shirts were arranged. Trousers. Tshirts. Sweaters and jackets. ties. socks and underwear in drawers, since i have too many now (a few pairs purchased at every stop along the way for the last year and a half) i have the luxury of disposing half of them, another drawer for clothes i wear around the house. light green striped calvin klein pajamas. dark blue ones with thin white stripes. a grey long sleeved shirt that reads make love not war. a 30-year old christian dior button up that's been worn so thin and soft i wear to bed (my dad chuckles at this, it was his favorite shirt for years). i don't dare disturb the books, all the books, boxes and boxes of them - but my stepdad winks at me and tells me he has a three-meter shelf set aside in his storage.

time seems to be slowing around me. a river deciding this is a good time to stop and take a breather. the trees, i notice, don't move in the wind. the leaves, flower petals, the centipedes all stop and stare. the ripples in the water slow and slow and start to die down around me. the sunlight seems stalled at a simple dull glow- a burning so distant. (i smelled you after your shower. i got up from my seat in the living room and walked down the hall and leaned on the doorframe of your room looking in, watching you fasten your bra with your back to me.
"are you looking at me?"
"yes."
"you perv!, go away"
"not gonna happen"
you didn't turn. but i walked in, put my arms around you, my chest to your back (same as in a dream i'd have a year later), and rocked you back and forth, a swansong. the sun slipping past the raincloud, a dull burning flame hitting your funny-toed-feet. "fine then, come put lotion on my legs"

a time for us,

(_______________________________________)

whatever that means.


Best of luck with your massive transition
q.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

if one is allowed to favor letters, i favor this one.

Amz said...

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww I think this is one of the most beautiful things i have ever read!

thanks Q! Mwah! xxx