This morning I looked up over backwards saw red clouds while we were speeding a rain dark highway in the super hovercraft with the narcotic highbeams painting smear drip friends on our eyes; blue swirls like when you're falling asleep but right now we're wide ball awake and she wants to get off the shakes and go back, wants off the fright elevator and it's not even at the top yet. It's a slow ride up baby so you can't help it so just lean back in your rocket chair, that green chrome spider seat, and look out a window. No window. Pretend; can't pretend. Outside maybe there's mountain islands in the smog zone all washed out: multiple underexposures. The room is a booth, cramped. Hospitals stick you with a new instinct to run. You think of death. I thought maybe to wait in your room, stuffed in beside the bed, hot, and imagining, thinking, wondering what I would do if someone would walk into the room and say...I don't know what they'd say. How do they announce death? You're not going to die that fast. Just keep it piece by piece. Good-bye uterus. I'll just stay in the hallway, it's safer, I think. Colored lines down the middle of the floor; red to surgery, green to x-ray, yellow to the cafeteria. Maybe. Trolleys roll by with bent legs from the weight of the green wrapped bodies. Squeek squeek squuek; dry wheel sockets, dry bones old and broken. I looked up, red eves, to every appraoching clipboard; looked away from the shuffling dregs leaning on their saline dispenser carts, following the lines this way or that. There was television sounds coming from an open doorway; intensive care.

I heard a story unfolding, pictured a black-and-white mother lying in bed sick. Her husband was telling her that all her children had left the country even though they had all died. He created letters and phone calls from the children and the mother kept believing right to the end. Right to the end. I heard a bed come rolling towards me; someone was moaning in the room, didn't know if it was the t.v. or someone seeing the end roll on top of them ,a dark laughing avalanche. She was coming. I followed her bed, her body, her nurse, into the room. Her knees were bent up like when she would be in bed with a book propped'up. My chest was tight and the pain of association speared my stomach or maybe my liver. She had been opened up just below her belly button; opened like a sleeping child's coat. There was a smell no-one has ever remembered. Two blank white faces asked me to leave the room. I stood outside watching someone's shadow on the floor, they were in a room down the corridoor washing the floor. It must be empty. What did they do with her insides? Must be like a halloween pumpkin with candle light from it's eyes. I followed a colored line to the cafeteria, passed a room with a view of the mountains. There was an old man with a taped up nose smoking a cigarette he said something to me but it sounded as if I had bottles over my ears, everything was echoing. I sat in front of a plate of food and thought of the painkillers she'd be given. The food went cold; I climbed off the bucking chills and went back to her room. They looked me up and down. Maybe I wasn't sterile; I was born to be sterilized; now I had the fear.

We were alone in the room and I felt like a fallen angel staring down at a corpse; shallow breathing like a drunkeness not natural or calm. Her lips were thin caked with white powder and her skin was the color of pale leaves, veins full of slow life clinging; I wanted to touch her cheek like in the mornings but it was strange mottled red, her eyes were blue like death. They suddenly opened, slow thick asbestos theatre curtains.I grabbed onto the steel bed railing looked down and tried to smile. She grit her teeth and rocked forward as if she wanted to sit up. It sounded like she was screaming while someone clenched a hand over her mouth. The nurse came in. Don't they ever smile, it's the hospital atmosphere slowly eating away at the spirit; they're just setting up the dominoes and they see it all happen; fall fall and all fall down. I watched the nurse inject her with a painkiller and then leave. Synthetic morphine; there will be the sound of wind and wheels and car crash sun set out. She might have seen me, like she said she had wanted to, but if she did she saw me as if she were looking up from our empty bathtub while water seeped up around and over her face. In my pocket there was a purple flower head. I wrapped it around the tangled string that hing from the emergency call switch.^ I thought of lifting the bed sheets to look at the wound, look at the stitches across her soft belly, but was afraid to hurt her or be sick myself. I sat down and watched the dripping intravenous. What a photograph it would make with the trees out the window; we could look at it at sometime when she's healed. Pass it back and forth, both of us really high high and I could tell her how I felt when she didn't.

here were airbubbles in the in the line and I squeezed and molded the pliable rubber and thought a body bag. The needle was taped to her hand, all brown like iodine, and when her wrist bent the skin stretched taut over the needle like a sheet on a clothesline. I just stared at the hand. Drip drip drip drip. Her eyes rolled over; slow opaque marbles. I put my hand to her hair, it was brittle. Her hand groped out for mine and she dug her nails deep into my hand. She began shaking in anesthetic burn; rolling side to side slow motion fish dying. No nurse came, I went into the hall, went to the front desk. Seeing the nurse putting labels on a cart tray full of speciman bottles, seeing the buzzing centrifuge beside her, invoked an eerie respect from me. I motioned to the room and she got up and walked in front of me.Christ that needle is so long and silver lightning. Ten minutes and she was asleep. I sat down and watched the dripping. Later they came and inserted a cathater becasue she couldn't piss, they call it voiding. If they don't use it, the bladder fills up and rips the stitches. There are deep black lines from where she used to smile. Deeper in the pain. There will be no child inside of her. There is only a woman; a woman afraid of people and she knows that it was them who made her what she is now. At one time she was tall and clear white like a fresh wall but with all those people hammering nails and hanging pictures, well, it left marks. You never know who'll move into the apartment next. One thing is sure, the walls are never clean. The memory of her family is uneven; the need to forget as strong as the attempts to remember.

After all, there is a new tenant inside her now, so why bother re-living. Why not just wipe-out every word and thought that had infected her for all those fiery years; they become abstract like a dream. Now she is free to invent herself but she knows most things new are of things old. How often does a change of clothing have a different wallet in one of the pockets? Now she's all patched up too. She always seems comfortable to other people but she did her best to shut out the voice inside her; liar liar liar. Sometimes she had fun being honest with others, like throwing the covers off someone sleeping; they jump awake and shiver and shout at the revelations. But no-one ever willingly wants to get out of bed. She has been asleep for so long now. For so long it had been despair to despair to despair like walking on thin ice and you have to keep moving or you'll sink but there is only a huge warm ice lake around you. She had been swallowed in childhood and still now she was naked and afraid to look down at herself. After the pregnancy and the collapsing breasts and suicide slashes on her wrists and time after time neglecting herself. No-one ever wanted her for the right reasons. They found her intelligence to be a distrcation and her need for excitement as something to be tamed. She never felt safe. The voice was always there: liar liar liar. There is nothing more, unless, you can say that there is more to a vacant lot when there's garbage blowing in from the street, sticking up on the chain link fence.

he knew where all the junk paper came from: children were the presents that parents gave themselves but were afraid to really unwrap so they just left them sitting under the tree and when the tinsel finally came off it was all too clear; the hideous difference between what they got and what they wanted. You never forget your first love. Hers was her father. She never understood why he slipped loving her the way he used to. It came so suddenly when she was twelve. He just stopped coming late night to her bedroom;" stopped touching her under the covers and he never told her why. She never asks now and just watches her parents grow old and die and then she'll watch herself follow. As hard as she tried she always ended up just shaking with morning withdrawls or lying in blood, mumbling for help on the bathroom floor, still alive. Most of her relationships had been like this; either it was so bad that they were doped all the time just to bear it or it was so good that when it ended you wanted to die with it. Either way you were dead and then you didn't know what it was. Her relationship with herself was like that and she's been reincarnated so amny times into the same thing. Re-born so many times into the body of a woman who is laying in the doorway of a pub getting spit on by someone kicking her in the stomach. Her first words in this world are: I hope you're happy now.





pores and living life swizzle stick together inside your little arm
the suicidal
there will always be fat smoking shoppers

the velvet fishbowl dream
a huge tongue was scratching my face and i was tossed like a doll in the dirt
synthetic morphine and the sound of wind and wheels and car crash sunset
the junkie's bombshell contract
suddenly you can feel the melt water turning to boil water

a breathing dark fear like something big at night under a bed


top of page

David Milligan