Charlotte E. Wilde

Identities constructed on the linguistic champ de bataille | Words, like little foot soldiers, march out in the armies of my poetic failures

Category: personal

Voice in a jar (it’s not a bell jar)

Have you ever read a book and hated someone for it, simultaneously reveling in the words as a child’s birthday cake– that first guilt-free high–and despised them, hated them trulymadlydeeply because they weren’t your own? Ever read a word that spoke to you so completely that you were sure you’d already written it, that it was almost certainly plucked up, a few sparse roots dangling, from somewhere between your 3rd and 4th rib bones.

(These hasty fingers. Mother said, “pull gently or they’ll just come right back,” but shoulders too achey, tongue too eager to get in out of the sun, fingers didn’t care)

have you ever read that book?
I have. I have.

(heart pain, a stroke or why does other’s greatness hurt?)

I got the title for this entry from a passage in Kate Zambreno’s Heroines. I think woke up the day I opened it. And strangely, for I’ve been mining passages elsewhere for months now—studied verbiage, hidden messages, jouissance and menopause, long sentences to short. I’ve been analyzing pages. Duras, Ernaux, Bouraoui. All french, all women. I soak their prose like chia seeds and watch it grow in the night. But this, well, this is different.

(you are different. you are only for me. I wont share you.)

If I could describe it, it was like reading me for the first time (terrible vanity). Like finding that first old journal with one page so real it actually remembered you. Or the first time I saw me and didn’t hate myself. Like reading me for the last time, too, something close enough to touch, but an organized version, not these scribbles on paper I keep stacked in a closet, tiny notebooks full of irrelevant notes:

To watch: The Heart of Madness
#37102 on list of things I hate: un-justified text
I didn’t change my name; I’m lazy or I like to remind myself of my mistakes.
This continuous drive for growth is the driving factor of value in our society.
I like girls with weird noses.

You know the sort. Or maybe you don’t and maybe that’s the point. But I suddenly felt for the first time that I could write what I want.

reborn. small revolution. ruined, reunited. restored.

I felt everything

(never more acutely).

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Paper Cuts, the dangers of a loose leaf

I folded the page and then I folded it again. Something about all that blank space felt daunting, impossible. You’ll work up to it, I thought, one day you’ll stare at that expanse of  paper and all you’ll see is possibility.

Today isn’t that day, but who knows how I’ll feel about tomorrow. Today I need something manageable, a tighter frame for my mistakes.

I folded the page one more time for good measure, licked the crease and cut my mind down to size.

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Cashing in my mental phantom load

I’ve been thinking about the phantom load of a memory, the lagging feeling of a thought you can’t shake. I get snagged on these mental preoccupations that exist like a song I can’t get out of my head. And I can’t help but wonder : where does this wasted energy go?

At night it’s phantom loads that keep me up. That sound I hear– feet trudging through snow, blood pounding in my temples, or electricity pulsing through my mind from connections I forgot to un-plug?

Today I’m thinking about human connection. And sometimes I get sea-sick when I swim in the immensity of the thought of the quantity of people with whom we could have fallen in love, with whom we still might.

Love is like a job, perhaps.  We’re all just biding our time until something better falls into our lap. As we get older, we’re perhaps less willing to take the risk of dropping what we’ve got for an unknown, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t jump at the chance if the right opportunity came along, the right benefits. Does this mean we should always hedge our heart’s bets? Keep our options open? What is “love” in any form but mere convenience? Don’t give up the ship, but how can a realization like this coexist with the romantic ideal we’ve held for so long?

Have you considered that the cultural used-car salesman who sold us this idea of love was actually just trying to make a quick buck?

I wonder about phantom loads, I wonder if I’ll get the bill soon for the things I’ve been thinking about in the night. I wonder if you have them too, and if you’ve been keeping back burners on just in case this pot is slow boil.

Cripple and the midnight slink (I’m your private entertainment, a one man band)

Happiness is almost certainly given too much credit, but never for its stealth. It comes and goes, a bending continuum of frozen blades, crooked and shimmering. Tundra, as far as the eye can see.

We’re all lost here. Monotony, sprouting futures on the windowsill like seeds that just wont take. A green thumb, an eskimo queen who greets you naked with a melting smile.

I catch myself picturing the things I want to do to your skin but tuck them back away. I put myself on pause, a Sunday afternoon spent in bed when we’re counting the hours by like last night’s bruises painted on my neck and thighs.

I collect your compliments in a jar on the mantle. When you’re gone I take them down and spread them around me, crosslegged on the floor. Two at a time I snap them up before the ball bounces twice, until I’ve captured them all. Keep on keeping on, practice makes perfect; I’ll train my fingers to fly.

We’re the performance of a lifetime, baby, two inimitable artists up-staged only by reality, in a Broadway-worthy comédie musicale.  Imagine us heaving, wet eyed and shaking, standing naked on this stage where we’ve just given our all. We’re brilliant, baby, breathless, and we know the reviews will be written with no regard, that commitment is  key. Acting is our allocated lie.

So here I am. I’m still waiting. Writing, I’m writing again with these crooked fingers. The backlogs to my memories kept on ice, I guess I’m back to biding [our] melting time.

Really, what it amounts to is, I’ve been looking hard for the words to tell you

I know I’m your default darling, but you’ve never been mine.

6:45AM, Hour 22 

Almost-7Am funds my narsicistic almost-thoughts the way a change collection lends itself to corner café espressos. I say “almost” because I’m no longer sure after such a trek that the dull blade of these thoughts in particular can be considered as such. Perhaps they’re more akin to a roving state of mindful forgetfulness turned mindless remembrance ad nauseum. As such, almost-7Am finds me by the water, coffee in the sorry hand of my memory-laden night and a would-be smile handed off to the barman in place of a tip because yesterday’s 200% is yet another a well traveled mistake.

I make sure to always remember my mistakes. In the morning the groan of the city streets set the slightest triviality, error, or misshapen comment glowing in my memory.  These tiny nagging instances awaken at the first fluttered lash or yawn where their presence makes itself acutely known even through the wishful haze of just-a-few-more-minutes-plea destined to be ignored. Commence the clicking of my worries and regrets, past missteps point to potential for error revealed as combatable only through constant vigilance and a firm hand. However, when indulgence has been too sweet instead of slinking away into my dreams to manifesting as a bloodied AM cheek or aching jaw we hold nuit blanche. I am glassy, ghost-like, somnombule and they, in some sublime show of feverish loyalty, never quit my side. Step for step I retrace the paths I might have followed or may still take, my preoccupations in stride, turning as I turn onto the cool side of the pillow or night and matching their every breath to mine.

The water always soothes me on such sleepless mornings. Something about the beauty in the grime or the leaning lovers who find themselves looking into each other’s eyes for the first time without the brume of alcohol or darkness, both wondering who will draw the line on an evening turned night, turned morning, soon to turn distant memory as such reckless attachment is wont to do. Vaguely I’m remind of naive pasts less easily relegated to the back of the listless line of my trudging thoughts now destined to lapse like an old lover. Perhaps, instead, it’s a glimmering recognition found in the man with sorry eyes– bent over his bottle on the bench yet willing to look me straight down with an audacity found so rarely in the sober while bringing the last sip of opiate back home to his lips. Or maybe it’s in the people who have begun to emerge from the shells of their mornings, blindly walking to the metro where they’ll sit blankly staring until they blink away another day’s work and deftly trace their well-worn path back again. I glance at the twisting canal lying still as some great omniscient black snake, reconciling the idea that this army of pink-eyed dreamers drank of the water’s verdure or city’s allure to render them complaisant in such a looping doldrum life. Perhaps, after all, it’s a glimpse of the occasional vagrant or pair that linger, like myself, on bridges to stare boldly back at the glassy surface of this turbid water, hoping for mirages or answers that might eventually emerge from the depths as an enterprising Excalibur.

These are the elements, the building blocks, that bring me here after my still-hopefull sleeplessness yields its lolling head to a reconciled stretch-and-creak as I leave my night for dead. These moments comprise the salve applied to the burn of my mind’s friction; a walk, a state, a problem not my own. On mornings like this I let myself be lost where the swaying repetition of movement metronomes my mental meanderings as I learn this city’s secrets. And so I wander pavé-lined streets looking for some unknown reprieve or the catch of a kindred eye– perhaps also seeking some lost truth in the opaque depths of an early morning coffee or canal, perhaps also sparking limping recognition of persistant memories clinging closely to both an unforgotten future and a lingering past.

Today finds us [Ice]olated In Our Own Little Worlds

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Everything was calculated: to the right, debts; to the left, credits; and I was no closer to understanding where I fit into it all, where you fit into me.

Control is a funny thing, such vast quantities of time have been abdicated to attaining it as though it might eventually be added to some unofficial CV or resume under the column of “high-proficiency” or “near-native fluency.” Yet, I find that when the chips begin to congregate near somebody or another’s lucky fingers a trend begins to appear: our own control is insufficient, we often end up relying on the control of others.

Isolation is no more secure than anything else, it seems. The world goes whirling on and we are all left in solitary grappling with whatever demons lurk under our proverbial beds, dependent perhaps on the outsider’s eye or flash of insight more than we would like.

Today this snow turned to ice has me reflecting on the topic as I watch people not used to this sort of atmosphere. They don rain boots and mittens as some sort of paltry defense but slipping across icy sidewalks sometimes still requires the warm steadying fingers of a friend or stranger’s guiding arm.

To attain either you must be either willing to ask or be flailing to the point that someone reaches out to you instead.

I’m not sure I’m capable of either. Still the kind eyes and words handed to me with my coffee do not go unnoticed, I just don’t know how to grab the hand that reaches half way.

I rarely think of death but today I’m penning obituaries, to the icy berries and frozen tulips that never really had a chance…and to myself.

“Here lies Charlotte, she lacked control in all things except herself, which she ruled as a tyrant with a fistful of iron. May God or whomever bless her probably-not-so-eternal soul and present her with the steadying hand of a friend or stranger in order that she might find the balance she always sought.”

Because I’m not so very picky, I just spend so much time masking off quadrants of my life that I wouldn’t know where to start.

Pilgrims Beware (Mine Is No Holy Land)

I remember when we sat for hours until you memorized the Braille of my skin and your fingers paused to painstakingly study every flaw. You counted the inches between my throat and collarbone and took my pulse with your fingers, pressed your ear to my chest to count out the beats and rhythm of me like a metronome. I remember when we lay twisted together like candy cane stripes stuck fast to that in-between space of hazy minded exploration that felt us drop off into sleep even as nerves quivered and reverberated at the lightest touch. I remember how your hands wrote contradictions on my side before suddenly relaxing into slumber that shrouded the truths written upon my ribs.

I remember how your fingers twitched in sleep as though lost along some route to a pilgrimage marked absolution but easily confused with the road to perdition. The traces of that careful voyage plotted for posterity lingered along valleys and mountains of soft skin and taut muscle but lost their way in the half-hearted markings of landmarks that were never meant to restore sight to the blind or push statues to stony tears. Mine is no holy land; on the route to salvation many of us simply lose our way, as did you, as did I.

Despite questioning hands secrets endure, untamed and perilous to those who would seek to find in the skin of another the transcendence of a deliverance it cannot yield. Still, I remember when you memorized the Braille of my skin and catalogued flaws in your notebook and mind. As you counted the inches between chin and collarbone I memorized the shape of your fingerprints, the weight of your gaze, mapped the paths travelled so that I too might follow your footsteps, that I too might attempt the long road home.