Authority

Memento Mori
March 29, 2019
Cover Artwork by Chuxin Wei
March 29, 2019

Authority

It feels as though I will never catch up. Every time I see the news, a panel show, people playing instruments. Anyone being interviewed on the radio about anything. A name attached to an article. Casual sign-offs (by strangers) to emails.

.

My baby walks with more conviction than I do. Practices with her tiptoes, goes backwards, circles the room. Never minds the other obstacles. Walks a scooter up and over a smaller baby, who just takes it, rolls over, cries a little at no one, blames no one.

.

At any kind of course or workshop, we would be made to sit in a circle and speak in turn. It’s only an introduction, nothing to worry about. The easiest thing, just saying who you are. I would become dizzy with the noise of all the clamouring thoughts I was having, like toddlers trying to get out of a cage. My palms would dampen and those small beads of sweat direct from the pores would spill out all along the lengths of my fingers. The time I did it best, the one time my voice held, I said, I’m a very nervous person. I’m sorry, but I can’t.

.

I place my body inside a man’s coat, found on a shelf in someone else’s room. Thereby removing the decision of my appearance from the open playing field, from the changing-room lights. I wear what comes to me. I wear it lightly, like I might wear a celebrity-face mask at another couples wedding. Like a costume. Dressing up allows me to always call prank, always suggest a red highhat and two same-footed shoes.

.

We need more women.

But even then.

.

I dont wear make-up because it compounds the issue, makes it look like I’m trying.

Better to try not to look like you have failed than never to have tried at all.

.

Even now Im hiding, not forming my sentences properly, not finishing anything. If you say a thing is finished you can be judged on where the gaps are, where your ignorance shows through like heels poking out of the holes in old socks upturned on the physio table as you lie there on that still pregnancy-loose belly and get your body out in what you hope are appropriate ways. 

Even now Im hiding. I wont turn over until the physio leaves the room. A not-finished thing is a gift, a gesture. A finished thing is a statement, a gunshot. A disaster.

.

I speak English to my child on the tram. I speak English quietly to my child on the tram. How is she going to believe me here? The more I am for her the less I am for me. I whisper the language I know; in the new one I am too loud, like her, I have not yet gathered full control of my expressions, cannot rein them in.

.

I hate that my fringe is so temporary. That this hair travelling down my back is not yet part of my body image. Cannot be claimed; is, continues, breaks free. 

.

You might want to, a finger moves across his upper-lip, gesturing to where the female problem is, do something about that before tonight. I do. He’s right.

.

One of the best ways of owning your body is to let it be, don’t give it any attention, it’ll grow out of whatever it is. The voice, however, persists: sports a tan, learns a word, trains the tongue between the teeth. The chin is formed by the way you talk, the posture decided by the determination to conceal your chin.

.

Things don’t begin. Aged eight. Standing by the school piano. The only one in class not allowed to sing in the class choir. Couldn’t perform. Bottled it. Bottled it in.