Frostwriting

Driftwood

by Carlie Daley

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In summer the heat between my thighs would not be quenched. In Autumn I looked up through a latticework of fiery leaves hungry for new skies. In winter I felt the icy touch of my lover’s hands, hoping you were close. By late spring all hope had curdled on the cloying cherry blossoms outside my apartment window. 

Traveling to work by train through Japan’s rice fields I conjured you up. Felt you were coming. Knew your smell, your voice, the feel of your hands in mine. Many times I thought you had arrived but it was just a cunning detour. Too many charlatans paved their way to your exquisite feet. Too many things jarred for so many years and with so many lovers.

Incurable restlessness – a discontent cemented by the sharing of bed with the wrong boy. A beautiful boy with pale green eyes and dewy skin who was a long way off manhood. Who clutched me at night like I were a purse of gold, whispering hymns to my beauty yet scorning my ideas.  While I tossed and turned on our flimsy mattress, loosening the chains he had begun wrapping me in.

On hot nights when arguments filled our small apartment like steam from a pot I took off on my bike. I rode for hours along the small winding streets in the hills of Kyoto, stopping to buy a small bottle of whiskey at a vending machine and sitting on the curb to drink it without fear. Safety - another blessing from Japan.

On trains packed with the tired, masked faces of Japan’s office workers I wept. Fat tears sliding down my face, no way to stop them.  My womb lay like a dead weight inside. I dragged my feet underneath it, burning to find my truth, searching it out on every corner. I took quaint trains up hills to visit outdoor natural hot springs and lay wrinkling in hot water for hours. Knowing once again I was caught in the teeth of a dead-end relationship.

Despite my dejection, I knew Nippon was the best place for such a dying star. A place to lose yourself in glitzy love hotels, temple complexes and pachinko parlours. Never mind emotional sores festering beneath the sparkle of neon lights, they would be dealt with in time.

In a Tokyo love hotel we lay like mismatched jigsaw pieces together on top of sheets that had pressed up against the skin of an army of bodies. On a bed that flashed and vibrated, in-house Japanese porn playing on a TV in the background. Feeling the moment cheap and forced not funny as it might have been. With you we would have reveled in the kitsch, laughing at the absurdity of a place that enabled the Japanese to fuck in peace.

A week before Christmas I stopped on a corner during my evening walk and looked up, mesmerized by falling snowflakes swirling and glittering under a glow of fairy lights wrapped around the eaves of people’s homes. Yes, the future gnawed at me, but for now I could rest in this snow dome of quiet beauty.

When spring time once again burst through in my final month in Japan I walked under a canopy of cherry blossoms lining the Philosopher’s Path, stopping once in a while to eat green tea ice cream and drink iced tea. Knowing you were coming. That all I had to do was ride back to my small apartment, get naked with a beautiful boy in a tangle of cheap sheets and submit to the drift.

 

 

Carlie Daley is a writer living in the hills outside Melbourne, Australia. She is currently working on a book of poetry and two half-finished novels. Sewing badly, baking and drinking cider help keep her sane. Her ramblings on creativity and motherhood can be found at Scheherazade’s Den.

Issue 12 contents

Poetry