A subtle shift in dream register portends it: one door, unstuck between home and home, speaking in tongues, vowels jammed at the back of my throat as I pedal through the usual answers - “yes, I live here,” where “here” is any given place that holds breath for me. My feet might describe it as the comfort of treading water, of being swept up with the memory of sand, from pebble to dust, dust consolidated into sheer cliff top overseeing the freedom promised by the horizon. Those tall tales of belonging have carved themselves into the fabric of sleep: a language I never cease to forget.
It was the clouds that held me at first. Those duvet clouds, rain-bloated, that blotted out the sun. They lulled me to a dreamless sleep. For months, I didn’t even think of other people’s mothers, how they were just a train ride away. Then, there was the laundry, always clean, its crisp scent of cheap detergent a different kind of comfort. Strange, what numbing medicines we cook up when our hearts blister over.
It’s how they look at you - in class, on buses, at the letting agent’s - the frowns as you let out the words and your accent won’t settle - a wild cat, braver than you - despite years of polite conversation. You used to feel safe in the remoteness of this language, unburdened by shame - the homes and hollows of your elders. It’s the stares that wall you up now, your rolling Rs the curse of generations. You have come to see it, your enormous guilt - how you have brought respectability into disrepair.