By Mia-Francesca McAuslan
With artwork by Stella Clough
He sent a picture of his wrist, freshly tattooed with the Sigil of Lilith: Adam’s wife made of clay.
Briefly, I allowed myself to pine for the bird-claw hands that once wrapped around mine and polished the back of my palm like a stone.
He talked me through the prose I was trapped in, had been all week. He showed me the black cat stretched out across the wooden floorboards. The room was bathed in sun and far away, in Montreal, I envied the light. He answered all of my questions on theology. I forgave him momentarily.
His intelligence is self-taught. Mine is cloaked in academia – material, pampered. His came from a year of celibacy in which he read and read and read and planned his eternal seclusion, gathering supplies to go and live in a shipping container in the desert, with his dogs, his tools and Nietzschean philosophy.
Once, he wrote me a timeline of his life. Next to ‘2007’ he drew a gravestone and wrote EGO DEATH.
At the beginning, the colours of love were so bright. A red brick wall, a sky blue couch, agoraphobia and bears.
At the end it was debris. Ruined carpets and all the years we had lost in the beautiful house. It was sorry, sorry, sorry and where the fuck is the whipper snipper and why am I always alone?
Abandonment. Urban wilderness. One last moment of tenderness, a street away from where we had met, 3 years before, when he had walked up and down the pavement in that green cardigan, smiling a fuck you smile at me.
Am I meant to be sorry for the way that time has changed us? Am I meant to apologise for my psychic abilities?
They flared up at a strip show, when I saw, in an instance, him fall in love with someone else.
I saw him leave me for her in June.
I felt it coming and gathered myself like a bird into a box. Folded my body the same way I had bundled the pigeons and the sparrows that the cats dragged through the back door. They dragged them in along with vines and twigs, their little feet stained from figs.
I was used to men leaving. I was only mad that it took him so long, that eventually I had to do it for him.
I said, I’ve had enough step-daddies to know that men are never permanent fixtures.
Rather, they move in and out, a constant flux; there is always another who will spit on your dog, steal your mother’s jewellery.
Look where progression got me, I said aloud one morning.
I was in a subway in Montreal, passing Jean-Talon, but in my mind I was back in Melbourne, weeping for love.
I dream of him in North America, a place covered in snow.
I’ve put myself in purgatory, I said to my mother, I’m like a virgin again.
She said, God forbid.
Give me brown arms. Give me pies at my mother’s. Give me light.
I wait for these things, as I navigate the steep stairs, cracked down the middle. I walk on the edges like I am afraid to fall into a river made of ice.
I’ve taken up hot yoga. Become obsessed with fluid retention. My leg stretches behind my head. The wet warmth of the room glistens on everyone’s throats, the place I want to be held by, the place I touch with my hands in prayer position, lowered to my sternum.
Savasana, final Savasana.
I’m widowed, in a way. Orphaned too. I have chosen abandonment. In her love letter to the colour blue, Maggie Nelson wrote: Loneliness is solitude with a problem.
There is no blue here. There is no green creeping through the cracks of the sidewalk, only white white white: a blank slate on which to start again.
I have never been one to reject renewal.
I step back into the light.
Mia-Francesca McAuslan is a writer of non-fiction, fiction and memoir. She has been published on Metatron’s ÖMËGÄ blog , in Alien Mouth and with other various journals. You can find her @miafrancescamc.
Stella Clough has been painting and drawing in Sweden. She is now travelling the rest of the Northern Hemisphere collecting as many autumn leaves as she can.