Wednesday, October 14, 2009


So I wrote a chapter. Not a roll exactly but some kind of traction. Maybe it is alright. Some of it might stick. At least I am engaging with the text on some vague level.

I attribute it all to Susan Sontag. On Photography, and what happens to my head when I read her. I don't have to agree, but my mind feels stimulated enough to have a conversation. Affection was all about the body, now I am flexing my brain. Strange. The change.

We will wait and see.

Friday, October 9, 2009

falling down- from my brain book blog, reclaimed

The bike was all rust. Rust spreading like algae on the tank. Rust on the mirrors and on the handlebars. Thick dusty doilies of it. The battery would be worse than flat, dead. Her dead motorcycle. She squeezed the car in next to it, illuminating it with her headlights and she sat like that engine off, the shadow of it stretching out across the road. She felt it in her body, suddenly, the lean of a corner, that particular ache in her forearms from holding the throttle at its furthest extension for hours, days. All the open road. She remembered a moment when the sunset took her by surprise and she had to pull over, flip her visor up and breathe in the change of season. Just an ordinary day but this moment bedded down in memory like it was her times tables or a recipe for pancakes.

She turned off the headlights and the motorcycle retreated into darkness. She could see the vague outline of it but it might be anything.

She placed the keys in the bowl on the kitchen bench. The place for keys. Everything in it's place Neat stale air. She breathed. There was a time when she would have opened the window, but she had lost that battle to a sudden gust of wind and a broken glass. She turned the air conditioning up a notch thinking about open faced helmets, drops of rain hitting her eyeballs, the scent of night jasmine. Breathing in static dryness and artificial chill.
She could smell him on her.

She moved through the loungeroom and there was evidence of her passing, her bag dropped to the ground and forgotten in an instant, her helmet perched on the table, her gloves on the couch The jacket draped over the bench framing the kitchenette. It wa a regular complaint, her shedding. There were pieces of her everywhere, abandoned, unnoticed even at his place there would be something, old bus tickets fallen from her bag, a pen that she had used to write his home phone number down. The envalope on which she had written his number. (She should have folded it back into her pocket or the zip pocket of her bag) A tampon wrapped in toilet paper and secreted in the very bottm of this kitchen bin. Her mark on his place. Her address, glaring from the window of the envalope dropped onto the floor beside his bed. Pieces of herself.
She took her knickers off and held them in her hands staring at the crotch, expecting blood. She had a sudden flash of that first time in high school and almost laughed. This new first thing. Despite the last days of her period, despite the idea of something done for the first time, it had not drawn blood. No one hurt then, which was a relief.

She stepped into the shower. The sound of the water echoed. She would wake her husband and he would roll over in his sleep and glance at the clock.

She turned the shower to a slow drizzle, but it was no better. Soap, shampoo, bath cream. She rubbed the chemical scent onto her skin. She turned the tap off and reached for a towel. Fresh towels today. Today was Tuesday. There were fresh towels on a tuesday, slightly stiff and smelling of washing powder.

She huddled in it. The temperature had dropped. The sun rising and the cold air rushing in to meet it. There must be some science behind it, but it was a mystery to her.

No point in sleeping. She rummaged in the dirty clothes pile for different underwear, a shirt and trousers, rolling the things still warm from her body and pushing them to the bottom of the basket.

She emerged and there was steam drifting off her skin because of the cold and that was nice. The flat was a mess. She had done nothing more than drift through it and it was untidy. SHe began to stoop and gather. She lifted her helmet and there was a fine layer of sand on the table where it had rested. She wiped the surface with her palm and the sand was no longer on the surface but she could feel it on the floor under her feet. It took her a while to find the dustpan and brush which was embarassing. She found the broom quickly but that was not what she wanted. She looked in the laundry and behind doors and she thought she might have to check the bedroom but she found it in the pantry. She leaned over and she was light-headed. She was unused to this kind of protracted wakefulness.

She scraped the sand into the dustpan and she noticed that she had a headache. A big one. Something fierce and inescapable like you see on the adds for Panadol Forte. A headache, penance for her lack of guilt. At least this is wht she thought when she stood and covered her eyes with her hand. And then she fell, knocking the side table over, spilling sand back onto the floor, setting her helmet to skitter and stop in lazy rolling circles. It was a crash but not a terribly loud one, and in the bedroom her husband shifted once and settled and continued to sleep.
The clock flicked over, one red glowing digit at a time. The shower dripped. She had dropped the towel in the bathroom and it slowly soaked up the damp spill off the tiled floor.

Kissing. This moment of wonder opening, like his lips, a soft kind of understanding, a fruit falling and seeping into the dry earth. She had never put time into kissing. Twenty years of marriage and before that there was no time for something so preparatory. One kiss perhaps or several, but each one a hurried preface to sex. She kissed and she closed her eyes and her mouth softened and it was something that invaded her whole body and the idea of sex was superfluous. The kiss was the whole of it and the idea of sex seemed unimportant next to this momentous. Inside the kiss was a bitter-sweetness, all the love songs she had dismissed as saccharine, all the awful romantic comedies that she had always avoided. Not one kiss, but a series of kisses that might never stop. But they did stop eventually and she put her fingers to her lips as if she could pick up this knowledge with her fingers and remove it.

She replayed it. In this space there was time for it. She rocked away from the kiss, hand to lips. Thought, they were right. Thought, how can there be this new thing after so many years. Thought, I will have to rethink my relationship to a whole genre. Thought, maybe it is too late now. Because there was a glimmer of awareness. At the edges of the kiss there was a falling forward and pain, her body tensing. An overwhelming hurt, like the flip side to the kissing, and when she came close to it she almost woke to it and it was too big. It might swallow her.

She turned back to the kiss, replayed on a loop. This new thing. Tried to link the lyrics to love songs to it, but there was no comparison. The words were specific, fixed, nothing. The kissing was some kind of chemical reaction. It was physical. Some change was taking place inside her body and she would not be the same when it was done. She leaned forward. She touched lips. She softened and slowly opened them.

photographer's advance

At some point he turns the light off. This is the moment when Bec knows that she is being seduced. A lazy kind of seduction. No urgency in it. He stands and turns the light off and says “My eyes are a bit sensitive to glare” and sits back down a little too close.

Bec thinks, I am being seduced, and would have laughed except that would be impolite. Instead she smiles, trying to catch his eye, to let him know that she is onto him, that she wasn’t born yesterday, in fact that she was born a long long long time before him and that this is the oldest trick there is, used so often that it has become a cliche. She wants to let him know that the very idea of him seducing her is ludicrous because of her age and because she has had a husband for so long. In fact, she takes a breathe to say something like this and is surprised by the tightness in her chest the little tremour in her upper lip. When he leans a little closer to her in his chair she feels unsettled. When he holds her hand, she is afraid that the startle in her heart is shaking the chair.

She has responded to him physically from the beginning of it. Who knows what alchemy takes place in a human body when it decides it would like to be in physical contact with another human body. It was sometime between seeing his photographs, all framed up and hanging in perfect symmetry in the university gallery, and finding him leaning over her shoulder as the developer did it’s chemical best to turn shiny white paper into a thing of beauty. Bec caught his smell and he touched her arm lightly for balance or to underline something he was saying. He laughed at a joke she made and no one ever laughed at her jokes, in fact she often joked that she did not have a sense of humour and people would look at her with such pity that it seemed they didn’t realise she was actually making a joke. Anyway, something shifted at some point and his physical presence took on weight that made her slightly anxious.

Soon after she had read an article on Cougars, women of her age who were vilified or perhaps mocked, for finding younger men attractive and actively pursuing them. The word echoed in her head. She began to see them everywhere, these women dressed in leopard print, these women with makeup like war paint. These women who seemed much older than she did but who weren’t at all. Bec stopped wearing the lipstick that she quite liked. She became accutely aware of her cleavage which was ample, and began to wear button up tops where not an inch of it could be sighted, even if a boy was leaning over her shoulder staring down past her cleavage into a tray of chemicles and an image slowly revealing itself like a wonderful secret.

He holds her hand. At first it is a simple gesture to illustrate something he is saying. She can barely hear what he is saying. When he touches her fingers the sound is snapped off. There is only his hand resting gently on hers and the thump of blood rattling her chair and the rythm of her pulse says, I am being seduced, I am being seduced, I am being seduced. She does not mean to respond, would not know how to respond, and when she parts her fingers and catches his between hers it is more to break the intollerable suspence than to respond to his advance. She holds his fingers tightly between hers to stop the inevitable escalation, not to aquiese and yet it seems now she has done it that this response only encourages him. He shifts his chair right up against hers careful not to disturb the delicate lacework of their fingers. He leans his head and kisses the nape of her neck. All this in the dark. The dark he created by turning the light off.

New Thing - breasts

He touched her breast and there was and inevitable lurch in her stomach and she was surprisingly wet. She was rarely ever wet, joked with her husband about desert winds as they lubed up with spit, some from him, some from er, but now she was wet and no one had touched anyones genitals with spit or lube or otherwise. So he touched her breast and she felt the sharp shock of sex twitching her nipples to little daggers at her chest and, simultaneously she thought about the way large breasts, like her own, sag prematurely. That he would never have seen breasts as sagging as her own. He touched her nipple and the point of his thumb focused all of her longing. The skin stretched further than she ever anticipated it could. A lance of a nipple, any tighter and it would tear and yet there was her body, attached to it, her age-wearied wreck of a body washed up on his bed that smelled like wet dog and sweat and he wasn't particularly beautiful at first glance, but he was young, half her age or thereabouts and the girls he would have been with would be just as young and therefore she felt herself judged.

His kisses almost convinced her. They were heart felt. They were closed eyed things, mostly lip and breath with just a hint of tongue. His kisses were designed to reassure her. He took his time with them. There was nothing urgent about his tongue but he wasn't denying her the full force of his passion. He can kiss, she thought. He has practiced kissing. It is one of the things she likes about his most, his studious inhaling of information. When he watched her developing, printing, asking questions, taking it all in. It is how she first decided he might be attractive.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

from the new thing again

"Are you going to take your clothes off?"

He folded his arms over the bulk of his chest, let them hang awkwardly at his side, folded them again. She had set him on edge and she was sorry for it, but also, somehow, relieved.

"Not with the light on."

"Really?" he nodded, "I did it with the light on."

There was a clatter, something falling in the flat upstairs. His mother lived up there. His mother who was barely older than she was herself. She had met his mother. His mother knew about Bec's husband. She knew Bec worked at the university where her son was enrolled. Bec turned her back towards him and settled onto the bed that smelled of old dog and boy sweat. Three upturned empty beer stubbies lazed on the ground near her toes. A pile of magazines and books about photographers that she adored were scattered amongst them. Novels that she had read and loved fell in an untidy heap.

She no longer wanted to sleep with him. She wanted to go home to her safe life and her safe husband and her darkroom with its familiar chinks of light that she was forever battling. A boat that did not need rocking.

He turned the bedside light off. He touched her back, the small of it, where the edge of her underpants cut into the flesh. She turned to him nd even in the dark she could see that his body was as imperfect as her own. Stretchmarks, sagging, extra weight carried in all the wrong places. His underpants were old and had too much give in the elastic. She felt tender towards him. There was something sweet about his nervous interface with the world.

He kissed her on the mouth and he could certainly kiss. That was one thing about him. His mouth, so gentle, nothing urgent about it. No tongue, just a soft pressure of his lips against hers and she felt her desire rise up in her and spill over and when he touched her knickers they were wet.

"Here." she took his fingers and slipped them inside the crotch of her pants.

"You are so wet." he said kissing her again.

"I am never wet," she told him and maybe he believed her, it was hard to tell. They knew so little about each other. She lay, then, on his dog-scented pillow and slipped off her bra and then her pants and she was naked. He struggled out of his own, tripping slightly, graceless. And even in this light she could see that the overhang of his belly hid a tiny, frightened looking penis tucked up inside a foreskin that seemed too large for it, as if it were a small child wearing his father's overcoat.

from the new thing

"Why do you put underpants over your stockings?"

There had been no words between them and now this. Bec found herself pausing, the stockings tripping at her ankles. Another boy would have been two shy to speak, but he was curious, this one. This was what she liked most about him. His sharp eyes. His inquisitiveness. She kicked the stockings away and felt somehow more naked, standing like this in her underpants with his question between them.

"It keeps the stockings up. Otherwise they ride down and I chafe."

He would be imagining her chafed thighs. She had betrayed herself. He cocked his head to one side, half listening, half a question.

"And then you have another pair of underpants underneath." He didn't touch her but she was suddenly aware of her second pair of underpants, the striped cotton things. These and the bra she was wearing. A black bra, unmatched.

"Everygirl you have been with has been your age right?" Bec asked him then, slipping her fingers under the waistband of her knickers, pulling them up slightly, hoping that this would hide the roundness of her belly, the stretchmarks, the very faint but also, she imagined, glaringly obvious age spots. Beneath her knickers, her pubic hair tangled like steele wool. She remembered a conversation between two of her students; 'Pubic hair? That's something you only see on fetish sites isn't it?' And then the general laughter that would be expected.

She was of a generation that still clung to their pubic hair as older ladies once clung to their beehives or blue rinses.

"Yes, I suppose so. Most people sleep with girls their own age."

She had moved on from her question and his answer startled her.

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, I suppose I am quite a contrast to them. I suppose my body is different, not quite as - tight."

"I suppose so. I haven't thought about it. It's not like I have a huge list of lovers to compare you against."

She had put the idea of comparison between them now and it could not be removed. She stood her ground, swaying slightly in her mismatched underwear, presenting her older, tireder body as if it were a challenge.

not her student, but someone elses.

She didn't want him to stray too far away from her body. From a distance, he would be able to study her skin, the sad, tiredness of ti, wilting away from her youth. The idea that he might touch the pale stretched scars on her hips and judge her badly for it added a layer of complication to the event. As if it wasn't complicated enough without the shadow of her insecurities. His finger traced a line between the little cluster of moles on her back. A constellation. He was making some kind of picture of them. The water-bearer, the Adulterer, the Hag. She closed her eyes and rested her hand on his hip. A fleshy hip, girlish. He was not the poster-boy for youthful masculinity himself.

Her own students were mostly tall and lean and athletic. They grew their hair long, carried copies of Camus or the poetry of Byron conspicuously protruding from their back pockets.