Chronically Fatigued

Hippolyte Bayard, Portrait of Self as a Drowned Man, 1840

As I lowered myself slowly into the pool I hoped no-one would notice my muscles shaking and my face wince from the pain in my shoulders. I went to the edge and looked down a 25m barrel. I stood there feeling a little relief as my body was supported by the water. How am I going to do this? Well you taught yourself before Denise so you can teach yourself again. Ok, deep breath, you got this.

Usually I go to the pool when it’s fast swim times but not today. I watched two women swimming in slow motion and thought how I’d usually roll my eyes, these people would usually be in my way back when I could swim a mile 5 times a week without blinking. I love swimming, but it’s been at least 6 months and longer since I could exercise (I realise how much I’ve lost track of time, this started in 2016). I can only do the breaststroke but even then I was faster than a lot of people doing the front crawl.

I didn’t look at the clock but kept my eye on the goal. I’d prescribed myself 20 lengths and a jacuzzi for the pain, which radiating from a multitude of indeterminate spots, makes itself most at home in my shoulders. So I put my goggles on and set off…s l o w l y, even then these women were in my way and I got frustrated, glad to see I haven’t lost my competitive spirit.

After 8 slow lengths with good form I realised I had to stop. I look like I’ve hardly done anything but my body was doing a lot and it told me so. Now what? Just walk. I can’t do that it’s ridiculous. Do you want to do these 20 lengths or not? Yes…then walk. Tears of frustration gathered in my goggles, I’d usually power through the water like a knife through hot butter. I cleared my goggles. Ok deep breath, you got this. I walked for 5 lengths. Kid, I said, you’re over half way…but my body felt like lead. I stopped and turned my back on the pool and grabbed my left arm because my shoulder was still trembling. Should I get out? I feel stupid. No I said that would be a stupid reason to get out. I gave myself a few minutes and then swam 5 more lengths

s l o w l y.

18 lengths, ok good enough just walk the last two, so I did. I stood at the poolside exhilarated and trembling. Normally I’d be the kind of person who says well if you can do 20, you can do 30 and if you can do 30, you can do 40…but not today.

I went to the steps to get out, it felt like I was trying to drag a beached whale out of the water. Is it just me or is everything going in slow motion…1…2….3…..out.

I walked

s l o w l y

to the jacuzzi feeling like I was still dragging that beached whale behind me. Of course no-one could see that but it was there. I gave myself 15 minutes of bubbles as my reward.

Today and the next day I can’t even put the washing away…maybe next time I go I should just float or give myself bubbles. No you won’t next time you go you’ll do the same until you can swim 20 lengths and then you’ll add one length at a time until you get there. Maybe it was too soon, will there be a next time?.

Of course there will, but in the meantime you will have to occupy that twilight space between the living and the dead…

Ok, deep breath, you got this.

© Denise Startin 2017

Image reproduced from http://thenonist.com/index.php/thenonist/permalink/self_portrait_as_a_drowned_man/ accessed 31/07/17

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…it clings…

denise_grant 005b

Ob[l]ituary 2013 – 31st July 2017 (it’s not an end but it has to end)

“If you asked me now who I am, the only answer I could give with any certainty would be my name. For the rest: my loves, my hates, down even to my deepest desires, I can no longer say these emotions are my own, or stolen from those I once so desperately wished to be.” – Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

you would not be there to witness the gift bestowed upon me…yet… Albert’s Hall was thronging, hundreds of feet were pounding and my partner punctuated the air…yet…that moment in the spotlight was silent and empty like your grave…

and in that breath I swallowed your death…

…and you cling…

 …yet…there would be no warm embrace, no look of confusion, elation, swelling pride, bewildered furrows, eyebrows acting in amazement, the joy of light and tears in your eyes, on your cheek, no nervous energy coursing round your bodies, no celebratory gustatory delights, no fire to alight your memory
…and you cling…

without speech, in silent voice, telling me how proud you were, how happy you were, whilst the worry lay buried, you would not, could not, speak to me about the future or how you would not, could not, support me

…and you cling…

you would never know I was there, that for one small significant moment the ‘kid’ did good, beyond your wildest dreams, beyond her wildest dreams, yet she would continue to bear this lack, lick this porous festering wound for the rest of her life in utter silence…open wounds are susceptible to infection…in the mud decrepit dangers lurk…

…and you cling…there is no vocabulary to hush this conflict…detached poems speak voices of the dead

….and you cling…and her fury renders her speechless

…and it clings…a stain on the tip of her tongue…a ghost building, silhouettes of words [where] a certain set of gestures are housed

…and it stings

like any clandestine affair my glasses aren’t rose tinted, they are cracked, splintered, broken, smothered in the dirt of you, black excretions of filth exuding through the cracks, the grime of you inhabits […] the stench of you burns […]

in my nostrils, rolls around like grit in my eyes, feels like ash in my mouth; I roll your name around lovingly on my tongue, caressing you

..and it clings…

i roll you around in my mouth and you grate, setting my teeth on the edge. The grime of you inhabits every pore, dirty, filthy little memories secreted away, skin seething like ants

…and you cling…and it stings

no amount of washing can erase your sweet aroma, your putrid stench, your incessant demands, your impenetrability, your indifference, your pushiness, your excess, we sold our souls for you, I had holes in my soles for you, I have holes in my soul for you

...and it stings…and you cling

still you beckoned me with your availability, your parlor games, your desire to cater to every whim, the promise to fulfill any fantasy. Your body gorged my vision, replete with the extent of you, I could never see the end of you, never see beyond you, never get outside you, never get inside you…yet…always the feeling of you moving inside me

…and it stings…and you cling…and it rings

every day over and over, no touch can sooth or break this fever, no difference between aching and waking. What happens if your today keeps exploding? What went wrong with tomorrow? Where is your moment? Has it gone?

and you cling…and you cling…and you cling…and it rings…and it stings…and the past […] and so it begins

i have not uttered a word of this to anyone, not even to myself…

...and you cling, and the nightingale sings, and the melancholy rings, and the past […] and the future stings…and the falling begins…

i have lost my place, i’ll never be myself again

After her…After him…After the Great Wen*

© Denise Startin 2016

*The Great Wen is a pejorative term coined by William Cobbett in 1830 in reference to London.

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The Mind at 3 miles an hour

Frank van De Ven, Body Landscape Residency, 2011

Frank Van de Ven, Body Landscape Residency, 2011

“The multiplication of technologies in the name of efficiency is actually eradicating free time by making it possible to maximize the time and place for production and minimize the unstructured travel time in between…Too, the rhetoric of efficiency around these technologies suggests that what cannot be quantified cannot be valued-that that vast array of pleasures which fall into the category of doing nothing in particular, of woolgathering, cloud-gazing, wandering, window-shopping, are nothing but voids to be filled by something more definite, more production, or faster-paced…I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness.” Rebecca Solnit

Text reproduced from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/497587-the-multiplication-of-technologies-in-the-name-of-efficiency-is 08052014

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Psyche © Denise Startin

wonder.ponder.imagine.desire.ache.long

I am here “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who does not understand growth, it would look like complete destruction” – Cynthia Occelli

I am unknown possibilities trying to be possibilities, fallible, flailing, failing, falling..spɛkˈtakjʊləli/spectacularly – D