Issue 23: Lydia Unsworth

The Month

I shouldered the weight of another plane to my name as I said out loud turbulence pushes you up and not down

I landed on the ground and stood heavy in the gangway trying not to elbow too much of myself into too much of anyone else but trying so much trying to exit the body of the vehicle

I dream of boats like I dream of a world without 100,000 swipes on a mobile phone and then a push notification congratulating this lifetime of achievement

the sun was orange and blinding like always

I took a morning ferry along with my jetlag to look at the land as I should have approached it

to go there and back

like a current I had to leave and reenter

three tourists among a deck of long-term night-shift workers

I tried to look like I didn’t mean it

the boy’s arm next to me was holding out a toy mascot and making photos of it in the foreground of what was passing as the background

I only wanted to see the landmarks from far away as real people might see them

it’s not as if I was paying for any of it

I took a taxi to the ferry after hiding out in a starbucks and waiting for the light because I had just arrived in this thing called night and I didn’t yet know what was wild and what could be cautiously cornered

faint glimmer of recognition that passes for awning

I strode up the city’s spine from the base of lumbago to a little below the eyes

slipped into an open jaw slashes of teeth-lined road through what was built as a park

stretched my feet into shoes ill-designed except for the stripe

body that should withstand deserts hardly even passed a child and survived

could hardly even deal with a handbag of horseflies

knocked a quick cocktail into the cavity

shed a little blur onto the harsh grid-like

strode past whatever stung as familiar

anything that seems to know what it’s for

beside me in bed was my full-length repeat

I left the curtain open to watch the electricity all through the night

never blinking the hours walked away from me as I never thinking about anything tried to approach them

I took another plane to an apartment room that was bigger than my life

sat in all the rooms as if I were a more spacious sort of person

one bed was mainly for a laugh mainly just to get all my stuff out on and fling it around

anything looks clean enough if the bedding is white

I put one pot of salsa in a fridge with eight shelves like a single clap

and stood by the floor-to-roof window thinking about when glass is first explained to a person

I put my tiptoes right up to the sheer panel my belly my palms and my nose but I couldn’t stay that way as my body was falling backwards

not sure serrated as we are at the front not sure we’re supposed to be there

I don’t look out the windows at the clouds I never because what if my thoughts come crashing down

when I was eleven I thought it was a piece of magic to be so bird-like this cheating

I’m reluctant to even call it a wing to my child

in every room I try to reside all giddy from power of moving like discovery was ever even slightly alright

in the hotel pool someone else’s history chuckling inside I don’t look down at my bikinied body because it wouldn’t make it out alive

sometimes the sensation of vinegar or orange juice comes over me like a swift tide

when I finally got home to the small flat in the small country that won’t ever be mine I shook hands with my partner who left because it was his turn this time and I sat in my flat and it was good to be back until my relief had elapsed and I hammered my week with chat slack and tat and this child was still mine I hadn’t messed up that and it was cold but no snow and some frost but no ice and I stayed inside especially at night

we made a bed on the floor on the rug not the carpet one cushion for each and one for the toys pulled the blanket up over us pretending it was a blanket I could have slept right there but you opened your eyes

twenty times I hacked it until I had to change the subject the monsters were coming but what had we learned

it’s not nighttime I know but we believe in exhaustion we’re safe in here now polyester over our eyes

the partner comes back and we exchange our new numbers get away for a few days somewhere where the weather is nice

up in the air I see snow littering a large range of mountains put my feet in the water touch red rock with warm hands and walk crab-step along the length of the boardwalk on which there is no moral to any part of this story

I stand on a balcony with someone that knows the half of me

light-pollution behind and up in front we are the stars

Orion shifts by and that’s time in my eyes

that slant curve that wall of terms

what I want to do is go to this playground I sat in as a child and look up at the sky and check what has died my inaction endless endless minutes murdered at the bus stop

you need those people who carry you outside

  stay with me my entire life

to carry you outside

Lydia Unsworth is the author of two collections of poetry: Certain Manoeuvres (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (Winner, 2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize), and two chapbooks: My Body in a Country (Ghost City Press, 2019) and I Have Not Led a Serious Life (above / ground press, 2019). Recent work can be found in Ambit, para.text, Tears in the Fence, Banshee, Litro and others. Manchester/Amsterdam. Twitter: @lydiowanie

Copyright © 2019 by Lydia Unsworth, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.