i heard that the shape of Korean characters is the way the mouth looks when forming those sounds. can you think of a more sensible way to make a language? your pillow lips narrow into a straight line. there is no sound. only my hands nervously flipping a coin over and over. something falls away each time. you say to me “once something is said it is lost forever” and the words dissolve before me. if i could have seen your lips this time i would have written down their shape.
driving back to Melbourne on Sunday i saw the city merging with the clouds. a blue haze was now eating the suburbs, having already engulfed the CBD and its skyscrapers. it reminded me of London fogs that stick around for days, dissolving the city.
Zoe had once told me that twilight is the most dangerous time to be on the road. i listened to podcasts the whole three and a half hour journey, speeding sometimes and overtaking lots of cars because i was bored. the evening sky oppressed the city.
in the car i imagined how it would be if i got to the city and everything had vanished. i saw instead the meeting place between two vast blues like the sea and the sky, making an ongoing corridor, a meeting place of nothing.
i would get out of my blue car dwarfed by the aggressive dusk, trying to work out where everything went. gradually it all loses its individual shape, disappearing into the same shade.
each time i get into the water i know i am back where i’m meant to be. it is a relief. to be fully engulfed by something yet in control of it is the most wonderful tension. when i kick off the wall i go as deep as i can. i rise to the surface moving my legs in a way i hope looks like the opening credits of the television show ocean girl.
it might seem boring to spend half an hour swimming the same length of pool, but there is always something to work on. one lap your breathing might be good, but your legs are lagging. another lap might be fast, but your breathing poor. there’s no one monitoring you or watching your progress. everyone in the lanes focuses on themselves. all of your body’s movements count towards getting you to the other end of the lane.
i am in my own world. i go at my own speed and the wall outside the pool moves with me when i come up for air. sometimes smooth and fast, sometimes spluttery and slow. everything i have is working together with the simple but complex aim of creating my body’s motion through water. i concentrate on every single part of myself.
This piece originally appeared in The Lifted Brow: Digital, Vol. 14, Issue 2: The Worried Ramen Edition.
Susie Anderson used to be an owl person and now is a whale person.