Six hundred miles. Over six hundred miles to see a rose tattoo. A tattoo in the shape of a rose hidden beneath a sleeve. Do you have any more? I ask. And she dips her head, lifting her hair from her neck to reveal a cascade of stars. Her movements are slow, measured, careful. She is tender. Any more? She smiles, catching his eye across the table. Just one, she says. A butterfly. To her they are more than beautiful, they are her right. Don’t tell, she says. I won’t. I won’t tell.
Six hundred miles. Neither of us slept. Not him, her. Churned up with joy at friendship and encountering such a well of loving. For all of them. I couldn’t rest, there was no peace in such feeling. A misted rain. In between a trying for sun. The ferry to St Mawes. Dozing in my hotel room. Two pots of tea, Assam then Yorkshire and a black vessel with its kiss of gold, to take home.
Coming home and all that re-adjusting, not there but here. Walking in the early hours and a boy coming out of the sea. I couldn’t work it out at first. So pink. What was it? A boy. A naked boy. His friends standing way off under the shelter, laughing, one with an apricot dressing gown spread wide waiting to enfold him. Making him walk, in the rain, barefoot and bare-bottomed along the Prom. He walked slowly, his hand over his genitals. I was behind him. Far behind him. I heard their whoops. Even when he got to them he didn’t rush to dress. Happy in his nakedness. Proud. Walking past them I saw he had a beard. A Christ-like figure. Neat in his youth. Perfected.
I need to clean. To sort out. To sort out my studio. Too much stuff. I need to clear a space. Space. To begin again.
Why do it? she asked. A good question. I mull it over. I gnaw away at it. Be all that you are, he says. You have so many talents. Listening to Marian Keyes on the radio I am thrown. How nice to be just one thing. One perfect thing. Not me. I am magpie-like, searching out the shiny. So be it. Write it out. A sewing diary. Write it out. Stories about women. My women. I see their details, not their whole. So be it. Write it out. Begin.
There is power in the beginning, Goethe said. So begin.