To Touch and Taste a Comet

By | 1 August 2018

At five past six on a milky morning in November, naked
from the waist down, dripping
perimenopausal sweat into my first black coffee
of the day, I wrote:
Be who you want to become
But first, know who you want to become

Jesus Christ, I hate it when I channel Gandhi at the crack of dawn,
the grainy difficult dream in which I’m trying to fuck Atticus, a lover
who left twenty-four years ago, still prowling my mind like a starving shark

I want to become Tyler Durden without the mental illness but the only club I belong to is
the one-parent-dead-the-other-has-dementia club
but I am trying to become ambitious so I read a story in a back issue of New Scientist,
To touch and taste a comet
and am so underwhelmed by the picture of Comet 67P’s bulbous shape
marked in cheap primary colours where sunlight falls or not
that I could never guess Comet 67P is a wildly alien landscape with only a few spots safe
for landing
and I think Christ, there’s a metaphor for life
The world is a kind of nothing place and I am like a rubbish pile inside and yet
To touch and taste a comet is written in font more elegant and bewildering than any
comet that I feel something I have no language for that may be out of my reach forever

I am striving to become brave and write good poetry
which means I must write Christ and Atticus three times
in this poem because three is the number of betrayal, Atticus
oh Atticus, who gave me a garlic press when you left back in ’94
Made in Switzerland, she has forty holes where the flesh worms out in a pleasing way
You held her higher than a trophy and said this garlic press is a metaphor while I hid
behind cheap red wine, not knowing what the garlic press was a metaphor for and
feeling too scared
to ask
I imagined my intelligence as tooth-sized back then
shrinking to flea-sized in the sober days
with a surface as fragile as fresh fallen snow

Some days the garlic press reminds me of a speculum
Reminds me how careless we were back then
How you lost your mother as sudden as a gunshot
How seven years later my father went, twin towers fallen
How that house with its glimpse of the dirty river from the enormous
red-bellied bathroom got demolished but the garlic press, she’s lasted
Her hinge a little loose she remains what she is without striving to become something else

In the end I want to be truthful
but ending is always the difficult part because fucking is not a metaphor
and we were always somewhere in between, Atticus and I,
his name always too much on my tongue
our pain always too much in my belly
which is almost definitely literally a metaphor but some days I still don’t know what –
Like my mother, I would like to be forgetful but my dreams won’t let me
I want to touch and taste the comet

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