Stink

I felt stripped bare yesterday, skinless, and exposed. I think it was from listening to the radio docudrama about the man who left his family for over 18 months and to all intents and purposes disappeared. It was so moving, so gripping and with no happy endings (though I’ve not reached the end quite yet). The man talked about sleeping rough, drinking, feeling like he was dissolving, and waking up to being pissed on. My heart opened to him to them his family, so much so that when I had to go out, out into the world to deal with ordinary things I was unprepared, fragile. And then work. Everything clanged and clashed. I drank too much tea to compensate and my nerves jangled. Then coming home there was the smell.

He couldn’t smell it. What is it? he asked. I couldn’t describe it. A stink. A rank odour. It smelt of rotting vegetation, fish, guano. It was bitter and acrid, vinegary. It stank of what I imagine lutfisk smells like when the tin is finally opened after months of ‘curing’ or should I say rotting. It seems to be coming from our neighbours’ flat downstairs. Had someone died? Was it a decomposing body? No, I heard cutlery against plates. Were they eating it? That foul odour, was it actually food? It was still there this morning. I left the back door open wide to the cold morning air but it makes little difference, it is still eeking out. How can they stand it? Or is it just me, being too sensitive. I lit a sage stick and walked around the flat wafting it, trying to avoid setting off the smoke alarms.

A cold walk. The moon is shrinking and the light dwindling. We go deeper into the tunnel of winter.