Hers was a dark Japanese aesthetic. She was in love with the lacquerware, the secret lives of silhouettes – morning, evening, night – and against our bright Gestapo bulbs. She loved the shadow play of fingers between our candles and ceiling, usually making cockatoos or butterflies dance and move and twine; her giving a voice to what she called our son et lumière. Sometimes, more by chance, the candelabra would cast a spider or chess piece – a knight or horse’s head (and, like the nebula, we’d cherish it together). A puppet show would ensue around the rose plaster, while she mused on how erotic it was to show a little – an ankle or wrist – and how paleness is a virtue, how paleness was a virtue. I knew this to be beautiful. She juxtaposed our flesh, melanin, our limbs and skin tones almost identical. Beyond our bed, she made Shinto moves in the dark, praising the tiniest of trinkets, placing her faith in glints of moon in her eyes – serenading me with dreams of decoupage, bijou design, what she could do to lighten the dismal corners, adoring the web which appeared like a pylon. She’d glide through to the bathroom in a kimono, holding on to our sex – her sandalwood incense wafting in our perfect world; the kind of room she’d say where angels would descend to, push their noses in. That was then. Now, on my walls, the arching sun leaves tattoos (to remove them would leave a scar) and there’s ghosting tints in crannies and nooks. The lamps she left are still lit, though they scream, and paper blisters and peels where once we laughed. The lintel, cornice and shades, they’re changed; so too the mannequin heads, perfume, fishnets – feminine finery. I ask myself: what do I glean from these evening shadows – what does it mean to live in her place, loving such things, loving her, when it’s just me and sedation. Votive charms, her hands once here, her art like a bruise which goes unseen, a moth flittering on this pillow beside me, my heart at one with the entropy.
Patrick Wright has a forthcoming poetry collection, Shadows on the Ceiling, published by Eyewear (2019). He also has a pamphlet, Nullaby, by the same publisher (2017).