I imagine myself to be jaundiced. As I lay here on the couch, my book is bent, silently complainingly, spine arced. The agony of its pages echo the shallow pain of my fingers and joints. I am not resting. I am not at rest.
There is a solid throbbing hum burning out from the small of my back. I find myself gently singing along in harmony.
I had not imagined the removal of poison to take quite such a long time, and to be such hard work.
Today lying flat in the afternoon light, twisting my head to catch a glimpse of glossy green black garden, I wonder again at the simplicity of poison. The scudding movement of mercury in my limbs, the sound of rushing water in my ears. I can hear behind the roar, the sound of glasses full of water being hit with a metal rod.
I am in my body and not of it. I am asleep and yet not behind my own eyes.
The stupidity of it; ingesting poison. Taken in great drafts years ago, served up in crystal glasses, I recalled it swilling about with a welcomingly oily grin. I go back to that time. The offer, and the acceptance. I drank willingly, greedily even. There were voices of disquiet I shushed, looking instead for the smile of approval. What harm could these little drops do me?
This was poison was made of small words, tiny and barbed but sometimes thick and weighty. Crushed into a paste, they were inserted into food, into drinks. Those potent little words, twisty and malevolent, were made into cordial. Some of them became soap with which I bathed.
I try hard not to beat myself too regularly about consuming poison. Anyone could make the same mistake, I tell myself without conviction. It was easy to mistake them for something else, I say. You could drink them down, consume them, cover yourself with them without realising.
I tell myself that now. But I knew they were poisonous.
As they were prepared I could smell it on his fingers, his breath. I could see the deeply held glitter of their animosity, and I chose to ignore. It was my choice. I always had a choice.
I chose to breathe deep, and drink.
Poison made from words is like heavy metal in your bloodstream. It never leaves. You drag the stones of them in your kidney and liver. It builds in your joints in a yellow sap, and behind your eyes. It can burn red in your throat and you cry it out in hot splashes. It can turn your body against yourself.
Mine turned. Eventually.
Today I lie on a couch nursing sallow skin, a burning heart and the repeated sound of grinding teeth. As the spine of my book arcs, so do I.
My hands roam over the skin of my stomach, my hips and side. I find what I’m seeking with my eyes closed. I can feel the pus-filled poison under the surface of my skin – resting like an orange just under my ribcage. Massaging it, I can feel the anger it contains, red-hot and blistered.
It is a blunt act that comes next. In my half-hearted sleep, my fevered imaginings, I am taking a spoon that’s round and cool and I’m digging at my side. I’m working around the solid nauseous ball like I’m coaxing out roots. It is at once all pain, and all nothingness. The poison ball is spongy and thick, noxiously innocent. I can push at it with ever more insistent fingers.
I will spoon out the poison made of words. It will not come today, and it may not come out tomorrow, but it will.