Nicola Was

This is not my dream, but the dream I dream about
In my dream I fall asleep
sleep stalks and mugs me
I am sliding over the floor facing upwards
the floor is as rough as the sea
while the air that supports me syrups my glide
over a yawning clawing surface
I make a hat with my fingers,
as although it hasn’t happened yet
I don’t want to bang my head and keep worrying about it
and steer myself about more or less
just slightly below the satisfying
and could be invisible it’s difficult to tell
because the dreamiest of architectures are helpful
they never get further away
or trick me by changing
the makings of dreams come true

How to enjoy the fall of the sun

Mother’s musical parties were usually held in the apartments that sat on her laboratory roof. ‘A place of lucky numbers,’ she would say with a kiss and a hug, leaving me the sound of her laughter, banishing the idea of any inconvenience.
With my attendance for granted I arrived early, in a bleary state, happy to drift my way through the blue eggshell glow of the long bedroom halls and visit the many open rooms. Strange, the beds, crisp cornered and waiting, they had a laundered smell so utterly repellant. It was what they were — still are (I guess) as there is no reason to suppose things have changed.
‘Shag pads.’ Douglas once offered, with a slow wink that shook a childhood love of oily diving birds. I crushed my teeth with the whole uninvited business of hideous wanton touching, and fancied I would rather tear the flesh from my cheeks and lay inert in the manner of a corpse watching ants take away skin from my feet, than meet the need of dreadful peering. I would press their bruised eyelids, blind their need.
Gracious, I’m not afraid of shadows, but neither I am not interested in joining a herd simply to count for oddity. Stepping neatly through ‘oh-so’ moves on the squared kitchen floor to the electric gadgetry of the fully-functional heart of it while inside the debate raged on over the question of scale, of why so many rooms, as there were a lot of them, each with a bathroom thoroughly cleaned. All this to consider as I spun my weight off the back, tip toe — no hint of Abraham would ever be found in these fancy hutches but then neither would incoherence. This, the fine line about which Mother must spin.
I ran outside after this muddle in understanding making for the safe space of the garden terrace, and stood there, my hand gripping a cold corner of stone while the other fell in the length of my hair. I was conquering fears and fighting against an imagined wind. Posing in this way, pretending that all would be fine tonight as I looked out on Long Wood, I let Autumn take away my eyes.
Stripped of green, colours were transformed to the strengths of a changing wind. Bare branch swaying, reaching out with their offers that amounted to old rook’s nests I could find no use for.
With a nod to decline such a kind invitation I gave a smile that knew how to show teeth. I was happy to have put aside a spade and plenty of digging space. I would send them all if heaven could take them.

Margaret, is my Mother’s name. She is a woman of evasive Southern European origin who has me (often the entirety of her company) in the spell of love. Douglas, her boyfriend, is in a similar predicament, but being English is far less defined and so immune to love’s drag. He is witty and has known me all my life; he claims that Mother is actually my doctor. I offer this as an example of the jesting he is capable of delivering to play a fun game of doubt. It is true that Mother is a doctor, but she is a doctor of what doctors do; because I have seen the attention in her bloody surgeon's hands and the sumptuous extravagance of her happy smile... And so, to be clear, as my mother she is my doctor contemporaneously and not for any reason of mystery that Douglas may enjoy for me to think far too long about.

Slaves leave sadness, which is understandable as slavery is an inescapable condition leaving the (wretched) taste lingering in the stale remnants of physical work. I stepped through the door, into a trace of fatty lamb and found the room inside quite changed. The antique chrome had been removed. In place of the quirky Bauhaus I found low-slung tables laden with cabled boxes and carbonated drink cans. Haphazard (yes, it was very) and slothfully convincing of work amiss held in unhurried progress. It was kebab-fat licked fingers in tracks of flight through meadow snow. It was grease smeared on ready-steady television to the tune of Mother’s obsessional needs. Cameras on stands pointed downward. Blue screens surrounded. A white umbrella sentry stood over a family of facing chairs; captives held in complicate rules. I have heard the suggestion of this direction before; it’s not new. Now I have seen the apparatus of mass hypnosis. Her face will have a fresh complexion.

In the air of her lounges I waited
waited for people who waited.
They waited.
Baited and blind they waited behind
held by a longing,
by promise in the night.
There is no reason, only choices
and know you cannot tell ones so bold
how to suffer darkness.


Birds, fashioned from children's drawings remained set in the slabs of the balcony wall. This had been our playground, Claudia and I, a place in which we had brooms for horses and swords that would meet foes with invariably victorious outcomes — and Claudia, she always wanted to marry me as it was my job to be her Prince because I was much taller and she knew very well how to manage a sister who couldn’t care. The frieze of stone had weathered now, it had grown a mane of mould. I found relief in the contrast and ducks at nest far below settling in squabble for the end of the day. They shared the moon in their black river with a myriad lights beyond. The lights made a city, and I became lost in their number with my thoughts that hoped to understand why it had been so difficult to find an axe, my eyes struggling in the growing darkness to make out the dying tree that would be this winter’s target. Outdoor lights flicked on, turned the woodland world to black – fresh Brahms waxed floors out through the windows split wide in the side of a musical lair. Far away I could hear Mother play.

I skipped upon green wool carpets
on my way to this harmonious call
past a row of man-sized lamps,
compelled to touch each one
and step through circles of light,
until I had Mother’s figure
completely within my sight.
I watched her play from the edge of the room
the melody, familiar on this calm day
at the end of a very windy week.
A welcome home of loveliness.

Mother has hell all about her in a focused notion of faith. Or rather, the numerical answer to faith that swam in her head as she swayed to the rhythm, matching her measure to my steady approach. Once behind the big piano I settled next to her wide hips, sharing the tapestry covered stool I compared my idle hands to hers moving lightly.
‘Claudia will be coming tonight,’ she said without looking, continuing to practice with her left hand alone. She played, so fast, so elegantly. A white sail flapped across the gloom that lay beyond the piano’s dais — from there came slaves laden with trays while all about us food was being laid.
‘Will she bring a man for me?’ I asked.
Mother smiled looking upwards and I could hear the silent laughter make gaps in her notes. Plates were stacked in round china towers.
‘Probably, but I don’t know — she will not give up easily.’
Mother blundered a key-change and stopped. ‘We’ve had an axe delivered.’ Gave me her big brown eyes. ‘My tree?’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’m going to cut it down.’
Mother considered this. ‘By yourself?’
‘Of course.’
‘And it won’t go in the pond; there are my birds.’
‘Not in the pond,’ I agreed, watching as she laid on her fingers and picked through a chord, sending a wonderful smile over her proud catering soldiers and the buffet display just completed.
‘Good,’ she said, and that was all that was needed.