Saturday, 15 June 2019

'Trampoline' by Sasha Ockenden

Her accent carries the warmth of a cactus sun, and she stretches her words to breaking point. She’s out of place, a Southern Belle in a cloud of concrete, but she carries the dust of her past on her tongue, and though she talks slowly, she knows just where to place each word. On her befreckled shoulders she wears a half-dozen dreams and a gift for reading people like poetry. Every morning, before she leaves for the greyness of half past eight, she goes out to the garden and climbs onto the trampoline, and with her lightness she bounces, bounces, bounces, higher and higher, above the incarcerating chimneys, until she can see what those around cannot, the dry-tongued heat and burnt air from across the water.

All morning her feet are stuck to the ground, horizontal concrete walls upon walls. Her steps are weighted down with distance and the morning frost from the car windshields. She treads up to the top floor, papers piled on papers in her arms, but only a fire escape is there to greet her good morning. On the way back down, the words fall out of her fingers, leaving a trail of letters behind her which turn cold with the draught from under the doors. All afternoon she clips her vowels like bird wings and keeps the ends of her sentences to herself.

And when she comes back with the chill of the day she escapes to the prison of her yard and flies downwards into rubber which elongates like her sentences and throws her upwards where she intends to go but her hair does not. All day long her thoughts have been lost to entropy and gusted away with the leaves and pigeons, but on the trampoline she counts out loud, in the back of her throat, at the apex of each bounce. She understood once, in a sprawled-out garden where the wind was too lazy to blow the heat away, that trampolines send her higher and higher the deeper and deeper she goes, and that in this they are unique, that everything else is merely seesaws and roundabouts.

Her heels are neat when they collide in her flat office shoes, but her arms are a helicopter and the back of her neck is damp with dew.  Her pale skin shines in the stratosphere as she reaches overcast heights, fingers pointing outwards towards the setting afternoon. Her numbers are one two choked by the cactus spines three in her throat four and the towerblock desert five all around her, but the rhythm six of the perpetual motion machine seven persists. She has warmth in her fingertips that she can’t explain eight and she doesn’t know what to do with it nine ten, so she keeps on bouncing, stretching the rubber to breaking point,

higher and

higher and

higher.

1 comment:

  1. Too many good lines to count in this one, but I especially loved: All afternoon she clips her vowels like bird wings and keeps the ends of her sentences to herself.

    ReplyDelete

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