At night, with screwworms

I can’t remember if my bed’s ever been washed. It smells of Victorian sleeping rooms. The places where wires were suspended four feet from the ground and men stood snoring, hung out to dry with their dreams. I can’t count the number of insects, small and smaller, walking over me. Admiring each other and courting. My skin feels like a factory for fleas all tramping. As I spin slowly, toss and turn, the pressing of this quilt cover squashes nothing. The bugs are also laughing. The pink of my throat’s hot. I’m belching steadily in reverse, air and gas being forced back and down. I’m summoning the architects, the designers of night. I’m thinking of plaster made from poison, of politicians and voting booths invented to cut away hands just like voices, silencing dexterity

 I’m thinking of manipulation and other madnesses that might come along, reports of many deaths. My eyes which have tried so hard to stay open are peaceful being shut. The world’s closed out and the screwworm’s work can at last begin. As an athlete trains to be powerful upon a particular day, through repetition developing his body to respond, his mind to correspond, so an addict takes a training, unnoticed but still going on. This is a race to break the body and the mind within it. Where the podiums of victory are to be found on floors and where photo-finishes, so beloved, are described by emergency room bedsides.

I’m dreaming, beginning to dream. I’m in a great house and then outside, as though part of a movement but banished. I’m beside a pool unheated, being filmed. I’m reading aloud from a book. Speaking softly so as to make my audience listen more carefully. Speaking nonsense beautifully. My tongue an actor’s, my bearing, the shape of my body, old and shrunken. I turn to the camera, myself, and take out an eye. The seeing part of me looks into the lens and winks acknowledgment.

I’m in a cinema, I’m at home watching television, I’m walking past a hoarding. On advertisements I see myself half-seeing. Later I search deeply in my coat pocket and pull out the lost eye. I shake with fury and the eye is lost. I’m in bed with a woman, she’s maybe thirteen years old. As every year goes by she’s younger and I’m older. Amongst the sheets I’m losing two years every time I turn to her for comfort. She’s pepper, brown powder, and soon before the few months old when babies learn to smile. She has no teeth. I have no teeth. I’m in prison. I’m in prison and nobody comes.

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